Finding Joy

I laid down one night struggling with my thoughts, perhaps just as Jacob struggled with God. I don’t say that lightly. I had a real struggle taking place in my mind, as I wrestled with thoughts about God, the Bible, life and my lack of happiness at that moment. The day before was not so fabulous for me, in fact, it was really hard. I had a hard day with the children, I was off of my daily schedule and I felt unproductive. Throw in the fact that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and that is the makings of a sleepless night.

I tossed and turned, but I could not take control of my thoughts because I couldn’t get out of my own head. I kept thinking about all the things that I could do better. I thought back to the Bible stories I had read about Moses, King Saul and King David. I thought, Lord if they messed up the way they did, I surely don’t stand a chance. My thoughts then proceeded to all the things I had done wrong and how I could have handled things different. I thought about how I just needed to try harder, try to do better, try to look better, try to be better, and the list went on and on. If only I could just be happy!

Exhausted by the weight of my thoughts, I began to drift off to sleep. At the same time, I felt guilty that I was complaining so much, and thought, “Boy I must sound like the children of Israel to God with all this murmuring.” I didn’t want to complain, but I wanted to be happy with me. In my head, I know that my works don’t move God, nor do they lead to salvation. I still couldn’t help but to think that somehow, God would be happier with me if I could just muster up the strength to be so much better than I am. Would He love me more if I were more disciplined, if I were more productive, a better wife, a better mother, or just a better person in general?

As I tittered between the real world and dreamland, God answered my cry for help with an illustration. He put in my head the picture of someone sitting down, placing their hands underneath their thighs, and then trying to lift themselves up out of their seat. I don’t care how strong you are, you absolutely cannot lift yourself up out of your seat. I immediately understood that God was telling me I couldn’t lift myself up, that was His job! Psalm 3:3 tells me that God is the lifter of my head. The common denominator in my thoughts was the word I. The more I focused on my limitations; it got downright depressing. It turns out that I am not perfect, but God is. That is why He is in charge, and I am not. Can I get an Amen!

We all have things that we can improve about ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with working towards improvement. The issue comes when we believe that we have the ability to do something about it independent of God. I was so focused on what make me a better person, which is a way a trying to “fix” myself. Just like we cannot lift ourselves up, we cannot fix ourselves. The job is too big and our resume is grossly inadequate. God will lift you up, when you throw your hands up in surrender to Him.

If you find yourself unhappy, feeling hopeless or even depressed because of thoughts of how you fall short, then perhaps it is time to put God back in His rightful place. You are a continuous work in progress, but you are right where you need to be. You were created in the image of the Most High, and He loves you more than you can imagine. There is nothing you can say or do that will take His love away from you. It seems silly to say it out loud, but you can’t make God more or less happy with you based on things you do. Our happiness is circumstantial, but God gave us something greater. We have joy, and it is a joy that surpasses understanding. It is not we shouldn’t want to be happy, but joy is so much greater because not even our circumstances can take it away. Shun the lies of the enemy that you would be happy if the circumstance were right; instead take hold to the joy you already have.

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