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Like a tidal wave crashing over me and drowning out my thoughts to shore, this past week was a blur of insecurity abrupt with chaos. Mangled in the fluids of my suffocation, it felt hard to breathe, stuffy like cold and flu season when we’re all high on Vick’s vapor rub and Flonase to survive, except the breathing wasn’t externally visible but internally. Lost in the train of my thoughts, I felt alone. I felt broken, lost, shattered, and ashamed.

After four panic attacks, I felt defeated.

“You were doing so well,” my mind spat over its accusation.

But anxiety and depression, you see, don’t work on my time tables or yours. Instead, they seek to sap and destroy every ounce of good you possess, replacing joy with complacency.

By the end of the week, my mother’s words rang true: “I just want to see you happy,” as my own heart shattered, “I do too, I just don’t know how.” “Don’t you think I want to be happy?” 

As a Christian, I’ve been battling this fight for joy a lot. I know that the satisfaction of the Lord is my strength, and the Word of the Lord revives the soul, yet, I’m still struggling. I often feel like I’m drowning, cast out to sea just waiting for Jesus to throw a net like He did with the fish and capture me.

Nothing is worse than lacking joy when nothing is inherently wrong to cause that lacking; you merely feel it’s absence. It’s like being sick with a dangerous disease but not knowing what prescription to medicate it with to be healed.

I’ve questioned many times what’s wrong with me, why I feel so empty inside when God is my prize and portion. I’ve asked myself, why don’t I have joy when I’m a Christian, and I know He is the source of delight? 

I’ve beaten myself down until the floor I’m pounding on resounds a hollow sound of my shell still lying there. And to be honest, I’m still wrestling, but I’m not done fighting, and I’m certainly not giving up on my faithful God. Because even when I don’t feel joy, He’s still joy. Even when I don’t have anything to bring, He’s everything I need and more.

Because a lack of joy doesn’t necessarily mean you or I am bad Christians, it just means we’re fallen humans living in a messed up world, desperately in need of the Heavenly joy that only our Father can give us. His real joy and peace that surpasses all understanding because they come from Him.

Everlasting joy will not be found in my favorite dance class, time spent with my boyfriend, or writing for hours. Dance classes can be exhausting, my boyfriend and I can argue, and writing often meets the writer’s block head-on. The only constancy I have in my life is Jesus Christ, who teaches us the difference between being happy and joyful. I can be in a crowded room of happy people and still be lacking joy.

Happiness depends on our circumstances, but joy is eternal and everlasting peace that transcends above and beyond circumstantial indifferences. Click To Tweet Happiness depends on our circumstances, but joy is eternal and everlasting peace that transcends above and beyond circumstantial indifferences. Satisfaction is granola for a morning, while joy is granola for a life-time. It’s a simple thought, really, why would we choose something good when we could have something better?

So today, I’m choosing faith over fear. I’m choosing to blare worship music and thank God even when it doesn’t feel right. I’m choosing to praise Him and ask for joy when I feel nothing but happiness in the air.

Because friends, I’m not into a mechanical relationship with God where I tell Him routine prayers anymore, but a real heart to heart where I say, “God, I’m not okay.” Because friends, I’m not into a mechanical relationship with God where I tell Him routine prayers anymore, but a real heart to heart where I say, “God, I’m not okay.” Click To Tweet

I want a joy based on my relationship with Him, and that starts with recognizing joy is always to be found in His presence.

Joy is something God can and will restore, and in the waiting, I press on knowing His joy will be produced by the Holy Spirit, but often some fruits take longer to harvest than others.

No matter what, a joy that cannot be taken from us is Jesus Christ, and that alone gives us peace of an eternal home and freedom knowing we’re living for more than what appears here on Earth.

Lord, please forgive me. So even when I’m joyless, you are still joy and joyful.

We will again see God face-to-face, and that’s something worthy to be joyful. 

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Jesus once told His Disciples in John, chapter 16, that He would soon be leaving them here on Earth. In distress, He broke through the darkness of their minds analyzing and over-analyzing a hopeless and despairing situation. 

But what Jesus promised them then and us today brings an eternal joy that cannot be taken away from us even amid the sorrow, circumstances, and yes, anxiety within and around us. The joy of the Lord lives forever within us, and because He chose to place the sins and fears of the world upon Him, we can ask Him for anything, confidently resting in His ability to provide. 

“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:23-24, ESV). 

The power of Jesus’ name brings complete joy and resurrection power over all things to those who believe in faith, even those on the neverending ride of the joyless journey of anxiety or depression. 

Agape,

Amber