What If I Don’t Feel Joyful?

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Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

At times, it’s nearly impossible to be joyful.

I wanted to sulk. I wanted to stew over the events of the morning. I let the muscles of my face form a scowl of displeasure – the kind that can be spotted from across the room and shouts, “don’t even think about talking to me today!”

I hadn’t began the day in a bad mood, but after calmly asking my kids to get dressed three times, wiping up spilled milk twice, and realizing we should have walked out the door five minutes ago, I got a little irritated. But when we were halfway down the block before I realized one child left his lunch at home, I lost it.

Has that ever happened to you? It’s not a fun feeling. The sad thing is, I believed my attitude was justified. I thought my circumstances warranted a loss of self-control. My emotions dictated my actions, culminating in a regret-filled commute.

During my drive, the Lord used a familiar song on the radio to gently remind me that it doesn’t matter if I feel like being joyful. It matters that I choose to be joyful.

Regardless of what is going on around us, we have the opportunity to choose our response. Habakkuk’s story is one of choosing joy in the midst of pending devastation.

Habakkuk’s prophetic conversation with the Lord is recorded in three chapters of the Old Testament. He documents concerns about a great deal of corruption among the Jews. Habakkuk wants to know how God will respond. He learns of the Lord’s plan to send the Babylonians to overtake them, resulting in the loss of lives and livestock.

Habakkuk’s initial incredulous response eventually transforms into blind trust as he realizes his faith is not in earthly belongings, but in the Lord. He sings,

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Habakkuk recognizes that nothing about his worldly experience alters the course of his salvation and heavenly destination. Thus, he chooses joy.

When joy is based on emotion, it wavers according to our circumstances. When joy is a choice rooted in the truth of God’s Word, it never changes.

No matter how much I long for one, a blissfully joyous life simply isn’t in the cards because I am a flawed human married to another flawed human who produced three more flawed humans. But the amazing part is that through all of the chaos, discouragement, and struggles of life, I can choose my response. And I choose joy.

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