How to find JOY in difficult circumstances.
“Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” Psalm 51:12
A few years ago, I lost a close friend and our whole family experienced a season of grief. It was not a joyful time and there were times of crying, sadness, and the overwhelming sense of loss. During this time, it was hard to laugh, there were many tears, it was hard to smile, and find joy. When we face difficult circumstances, challenges and trials it is easy to think that our feelings and emotions are going to last forever, and that life will always be this way.
Maybe you have been through a difficult break up, a loss of a loved one, or you got fired from your job, a friend betrayed you, or you experienced a life transition you weren’t expecting.
We all face moments in life that can be challenging.
How can we find joy in the midst of it?
The word joy means: the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.
Joy is God’s gift to us.
Have you ever been to a birthday party? One of my favourite moments at a birthday party is watching the person open up their presents. Imagine if they didn't ever open the gifts they got given? They would miss out on joy of the gift.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13
The first place we can find joy is in God’s presence. God wants us to be connected with him, to spend time with him, to experience his peace and hope. When we are looking at our circumstances, we can easily take our eyes off God.
When we connect with our Heavenly Father through prayer, worship and reading God’s word, we are filled with his promises and truth for us. This can bring us a sense of hope and fill our hearts with joy.
“You make known to me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11
The second place we can find joy is connection with others.
God made us to be social creatures and interact with each other and have deep and meaningful connections, and conversations.
He made us to share our lives with each other, support, love and care for each other.
I know sometimes when I have been facing a difficult time and I spent time with a good friend, I feel encouraged, loved, and filled with joy.
Connecting with others can be a phone call, a walk with a friend, saying hello to someone new at the park, or checking in with someone you haven't seen for awhile.
Who do you need to reach out to this week and connect with?
The third way we can find joy in any season of life is by focusing on the good. It doesn’t matter how hard life is at the moment, there is always something that you can be thankful for.
In recent studies, they have found that when we intentionally focus on the good things in our life, it helps us feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves our health and makes us stronger. They have also found that it helps rewire our brain to look for the good throughout our day, rather than the negative.
I make it a habit of listing all the things I am thankful for before I go to sleep at night. It is amazing how joyful it makes you feel when you realize all the good things that happened during the day.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” 2 Corinthians 9:11
Other ways we can find joy is through the things we love to do.
There are so many hobbies and activities that bring us joy. I believe we all need to find the things that we enjoy doing, and make a habit of doing them regularly. Its amazing how much joy you can experience by doing something you love. I have a friend who loves to do arts and crafts and when she spends time doing it, she feels great. I have a friend who loves hiking and that brings her joy. I love being out and nature and taking in all the sights and sounds. I love playing music. I love swimming in the ocean.
Here are a list of things that might bring you joy:
Reading a book
Arts and crafts
Watching a good movie
Let me finish by saying that wherever you find yourself today on your journey of discovering how to find joy, that we can experience joy in every season of life, when we are connected with God, his word, his presence and his promises to us.
What do you need to do today to experience more JOY?