Finding Joy in Life’s Messes

No one would argue that the past year has been difficult. Everyone knows that life has been a mess for many people. Most of us are tired and ready to be done with the mess. Many of us are discouraged or at the very least, disappointed in how things have gone for the past year.

My 2020 has been full of difficulties. We have dealt with broken relationships, health issues, and financial challenges, and those were unrelated to COVID-19 arriving on the scene. We have had our share of issues with COVID too. My folks are still recovering from having the virus a month ago. My father-in-law passed in early December after a stroke, and we couldn’t travel to Ohio for the funeral because it is just too risky right now. We have been to church only a handful of times in the past 12 months. We feel isolated and wonder how much longer this can go on.

And yet, right in the middle of all of this, I have this sense of peace. I can be driving to the grocery store and suddenly feel overwhelmed with thankfulness for the life God has given me. I start grinning and telling God how grateful I am for His blessings and His love for us. How is that even possible with all the difficulties we have been dealing with? I sometimes start to feel guilty for having such a positive outlook while so many are struggling and hurting. Don’t I have any sense of compassion at all? Am I just living in denial concerning all the hardships?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and finally read something that flipped a switch in my understanding. I have no reason to feel guilty. I am not lacking in compassion. What I am experiencing is not denial… it’s JOY!

Do you know how I can find joy in the middle of all this mess? It’s because joy is not based on my circumstances and it’s not something I can muster up on my one. It comes directly from the Holy Spirit. He provides the joy. All I have to do is embrace it.

My circumstances–YOUR circumstances, no matter how difficult, do not change the character of God. He is still good. He is still compassionate. He is still faithful… the list can go on and on. He isn’t any different whether our life is perfect or a total mess.

But we do have a choice to make. We can keep looking at our circumstances and allowing them to guide our view of God or we can look at the character of our God and allow that to influence how we view our circumstances.

The choice is yours.

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. – Psalm 27:6 (ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13(ESV)