Do you struggle to find joy in the hard places?
Perhaps it seems more like a dream to have this deep-rooted happiness that’s unshaken regardless of headlines or circumstances?
As I shared last week, it’s been a rough couple of weeks here in the Ciuciu household. I don’t think we’ve quite fully recovered from COVID. And it’s been heartbreaking here for our local community as well.
Thankfully, the Bible is filled with both psalms of rejoicing and psalms of lament, and there is great comfort to be found in praying both. This psalm especially guided me through the toughest of times:
Do you resonate with those words?
Or perhaps you’re more likely to shout out these words, from just a few psalms later:
and bless your name forever and ever.
[I will] give a testimony of your great goodness
and will joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Both are honest prayers from Scripture. Both guide us into God’s presence.
And that’s the key to how to find joy in the hard places: we find joy in Jesus!
I firmly believe that to the core of my being.
In fact, my very name bears witness to that truth.
God. God alone. God is my happiness.
So even as I struggled with sorrow and dejection this past week, I kept coming back to this truth:
Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
and also, one of my favorite verses:
And do you know what a relief that is for our weary souls?
Because we don’t have to fabricate joy. We don’t have to pretend joy. We don’t have to try harder to be joyful.
We simply make our way into God’s presence, rest and abide in Him, and He fills us with His joy.
Because the fruit of the Spirit is… JOY.
This joy was our current focus in prayer last week as in our Fruit of the Spirit: Prayers of REST series.
And if you’re struggling to hold onto joy this morning, may I encourage you to take 10 minutes and make your way into God’s loving presence?
I promise you will not leave the same way you came.
From the podcast…
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8–9 NIV
Let’s begin by Reciting God’s Goodness, praising Him for who He is and what He has done in our lives…
O Triune God, You are the God who rejoices over Your people with songs of celebration when anyone turns to You. How good You are to fill my heart with joy in Your presence. I rejoice in You, the God of my salvation!
- “In the next few moments, praise God for how He has shown His goodness in your life recently.”
We continue by Expressing Our Neediness, confessing our need for Him and His forgiveness.
Help me avail myself of the pleasures found only in Your presence. When I’m pummeled by hardship, fix my gaze on You and remind me of the eternal glories that await me at Your right hand. Through Your Spirit’s work in my life, fill me with inexpressible and glorious joy.
- “In the next few moments, confess to God how you have failed to [love Him and love others], and express your desire to abide in Him, so that His Spirit may bear much fruit in your life.”
Now we move into a time of Seeking His Stillness, becoming aware of God’s loving presence surrounding us and filling us this very moment.
God’s kingdom is one of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Is this how you’ve experienced God’s presence in your life? What is God inviting you to today?
Finally, let’s Trust God’s Faithfulness. I invite you to declare your confidence in God’s faithfulness to produce fruit in your life, to preach to your own heart and soul that He is trustworthy and He will take care of what you entrust to Him.
You promise to crown your people with everlasting joy that will never be taken away when You return and we see You face to face. Until then, help me remain aware of Your presence in my life and rejoice in You, knowing that when You return, You will make my joy complete.
- “In the next few moments, say it out loud: “God, I trust that You will be faithful.”