Is your JOY turned upside down, backward, and hanging on by a thread?

Mine is too some days.

This past weekend, we put up our Christmas tree. The kids were excited and eager to begin hanging ornaments. In my son’s haste (and inability to read!), he pulled out an ornament and happily hung it on the tree with no understanding that this was not as it should be.

I walked over to help him, and something about the image stopped me.

Isn’t this so like life at times? Joy, dangling there by a thread, backward, and upside down to boot.

IMG_6135That’s how it feels in my life some days because some days are just hard, aren’t they? It can seem as though absolutely nothing goes right. Work is hard.  Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard.  Even our faith can seem hard at times.

And then, there are harder than hard things. The things that turn your world upside down. Things like health issues and divorce, like death and sorrow, like grief and pain.

Yes, joy can indeed be difficult to find.

Some days I wake determined to be joyful, only to end up frustrated by the endless piles of laundry, the constant sibling bickering, and the monotony of another routine day wondering if I’m fulfilling my purpose here at all.

At other times in my life, I awoke determined to be joyful, after a long and winding road through sorrow and brokenness, only to end up sitting on the floor silently crying once more wondering when the grieving would end.

Joy. It’s elusive, or so it seems.

The harder we try to grasp it, the more obscure it becomes. The more we frantically grab and pull and hold on, the quicker joy seems to slip right through our fingers. Perhaps this is because joy, like hope and peace, are not “things” to hold on to, but rather, blessings that come from a close relationship with God.

I think we often confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is a feeling based on outward circumstances. Unlike happiness, joy can transcend the tumultuous waves that crash around us because joy is found in Jesus Christ. When we abide in Him, we can trust He will never leave us nor forsake us.

This knowledge doesn’t make painful circumstances less difficult. It doesn’t make the sorrow less sorrowful. What it does do is promise that we will never walk these roads alone, and it reminds us God will make all things beautiful in His time.  This is how we can have hope, peace, and joy despite our circumstances.

So friend, if your joy feels a little upside today, if it feels as though it’s hanging by a thin thread, or if you are where I was some years ago and joy seems so foreign you wonder if the two of you will ever meet again, please take heart.

Psalm 30:5 reminds us that, “…weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

With the dawning of each new day, there is always hope, friends. Please hold tight until the dawning of the new day.

John 15:9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

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