by Gena Barnhill @BarnhillGena
Lie: I’ll never be happy.
Truth: I can ask the Lord to heal my emotional wounds and trust He will give me hope and a future, and I will experience His joy (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 147:3).
“Just when I think I’ve found someone who truly understands me, the relationship dissolves. I’m in a dead-end job and have nothing to look forward to. My best friend recommended retail therapy as a solution. Trying on clothes and shopping with my friend lifted my mood. But as soon as I returned home, I felt worse. Now I have to deal with a large bill I can’t afford. It seems I’ll never be happy. What is wrong with me?”Defeating the Lie I'll Never Be Happy: The Lies We Tell Ourselves Series #healing #emotionalwounds Click To Tweet
In the pursuit of happiness, many individuals engage in endless activities to fill the void in their hearts. Shopping, eating, and entertainment events can be fun, bring us pleasure, help relieve stress, and create happy memories. Yet, this happiness is often fleeting, and we are left searching for the next activity to enhance our mood. Distractions temporarily fill the emptiness but do not provide lasting contentment or joy.
Though we were never promised an easy life, happiness and joy come through our Lord. Even during trials and tribulations, we can experience lasting joy when trusting the Lord. He is bigger than our problems.
Happiness is often associated with transient feelings of pleasure or gratification that come from external circumstances or events. It can be dependent on factors such as success, relationships, or material possessions. Joy is a deeper and more enduring sense of contentment and well-being that comes when we choose to trust God and understand He has our backs. It is not dependent on external circumstances but is rooted in a sense of peace, thankfulness, and connection with Him.
While happiness may come and go based on the ups and downs of life, joy can be experienced at all times. The Bible offers examples of people, such as David, Joseph, and Ruth, who chose joy in the face of extreme hardship.
Shortly before He was crucified, Jesus spoke these words recorded in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” In Luke 16:20–22, Jesus promises the disciples their sorrow will be turned to joy, and no one can take joy from them.
Temporary difficulties or hardships do not take away our joy when we know its true source—the presence of God and the assurance of His love and faithfulness. Joy can coexist with pain, sorrow, or adversity. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, wrote about experiencing joy and contentment even amid trials, persecution, and imprisonment. In Philippians 4:11, he said he learned to be content in whatever situation he faced. Referring to Jesus in verse thirteen, he wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
While happiness can be influenced by external factors, joy is developed through a relationship with the Lord. Seeking the Lord’s presence, where joy is found, should be our goal.
Paul’s example reminds us of the transformative power of joy that comes from a deep relationship with God. Joy supports us in life’s challenges and provides hope and strength when we face difficult tasks. With joy, we find meaning and purpose amid adversity and learn to trust God to work all things together for our good, even when we cannot see it.
By drawing close to the Lord and relying on His promises, we experience joy not dependent on our circumstances. We know we are loved unconditionally. Our joy is anchored in the hope and future God has promised us, and nothing can separate us from His love. We can take assurance from Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
We can reject the lie “I’ll never be happy” and embrace the truth lasting joy is within reach through our relationship with God. James encouraged us when he wrote in James 1: 2–3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” We can decide to choose joy and respond to life’s challenges and trials with inner contentment. In your pursuit of lasting joy over fleeting happiness, consider the acrostic JOY.
J—Jesus is the Source of Joy
Jesus is the ultimate source of joy. Joy is a deep and abiding sense of contentment that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In Luke 10, Martha was distracted with serving while Mary experienced joy sitting in Jesus’s presence. We can busy ourselves with activities and miss the joy of resting and abiding in the Lord’s presence. By seeking and abiding in Him, we can experience the fullness of the joy He offers.
Jesus can also heal broken hearts. Often, painful experiences or traumas block our joy. Psalm 147:3 tells us Jesus “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” His power can heal our emotional wounds and restore joy. It is through seeking God’s comfort and allowing His love to transform our brokenness that we experience true joy.
Gratitude is a powerful attitude that changes our perspective, transforms our minds, and leads to joy. When we choose to respond with a heart of gratitude and focus on the blessings in our lives, we open ourselves up to experiencing joy. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” When we are unsure how to act in a challenging situation, we can ask Jesus how He wants us to view the situation and respond.
Instead of getting caught up in past regrets or future worries, we can ask the Lord to help us appreciate the present moment. Philippians 4:6–7 instructs us to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” By giving all our concerns to God and practicing gratitude, we can experience the peace and contentment that leads to lasting joy.
Y—Yield to God’s Will
We experience joy when we relinquish control of our lives and surrender ourselves to God and His plan. When we trust in His wisdom and guidance, we receive peace and contentment that surpasses understanding. We are reminded in Proverbs 3:5–6 to trust in the Lord, not in our understanding, and He will direct our paths. We can take encouragement from Romans 8:28, which says, “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
In summary, through our relationship with Jesus, an attitude of gratitude, and surrendering to God’s will we can experience the joy that surpasses circumstances and endures throughout our lives.
Now it is your turn. Are you pursuing happiness or joy? Have you been able to experience joy during challenging circumstances?
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