When Sorrow Steals your Joy

I was watching a dvd of kids singing Bible songs.  The kids were dancing and smiling and the songs were lighthearted-the way children’s songs should be.  Joel was clapping his hands and Joshua’s dimple was showing.  Something about the simple lyrics of God’s love and goodness made my own heart sing.

I kept thinking “The joy of the Lord is our strength”.  This is stated in both the Psalms and Nehemiah.  Yes, I can see how that is true.   Finding happiness in God would give us strength.

The only problem is, I’m not joyful.  I’m sad.

What if you don’t feel joy?  Where does your strength come from then?

First, I would like to point out that it reads the “joy OF the Lord” and not my own joy.  If we relied on our circumstances to make us happy, we would be constantly searching because things will never be perfect.  We will always struggle with jobs that we hate, people who treat us badly, and vehicles that fall apart.  The stomach flu will visit, your beloved pet will die, your spouse will make poor decisions and leave you hurting.

Here is a story from Acts about Paul and Silas.

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into the inner prison and what did they do?  They sang hymns to God!

I am also in an inner prison.  My mind is my prison.  Some days I relive Rebekah’s accident to the point I feel as if I’m going crazy.  Other times I look at pictures and remember her til my heart hurts so badly that I think I’d rather die than face another day.  I watch other little girls with their mothers and sorrow fills my heart.  I should be with my Rebekah too.

What I want to know is why Paul and Silas, after being beaten, were singing in the middle of the night?  Why were they not “licking their wounds” and feeling down about this terrible mistreatment?

Even if I were to say that their joy was not dependent upon their circumstances, which clearly it wasn’t, that does not explain why they would sing.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Tell me, dear friends, how losing my daughter could possibly be a plan that doesn’t harm me?  How could Paul and Silas sing after being beaten?

What if the strength comes only after we make an effort?  What if we must first step out on faith and say, “Yes, God, I still believe that you are good.  I still believe your promises in the midst of my circumstances.  My heart is broken and yet I will praise you because you are God.”

This is where the joy comes.  I am sure of it now.  Joy comes from professing faith in a God that loves and cares for you.  It comes when we stand up and sing!

From that joy comes strength!

Did Paul and Silas sing because they had been beaten and thrown into an inner prison?  No, they sang because their faith was greater than their circumstances.  They sang because being in stocks could not stop them from professing their faith and they understood that strength would come as a result.

when sorrow steals your joy

Will I sing because God has taken my daughter?  No, but I will sing because I still believe in a God that loves me and if ever I needed His strength, it’s now.

About the author

2 thoughts on “When Sorrow Steals your Joy”

  1. Hi Heather,
    I am Patti…the woman in the photo that Nina took in your field. She told me that she sent it to you recently.
    I too have been broken by the suffering of my children. My oldest son is paralyzed from the chest down and in a wheel chair as a result of a 4 wheel accident. My youngest is approaching 15 years cancer free after battling Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 17. I have to say that I do not know how I would have lifted my hands in praise of a God who gives and takes away had He taken either of my boys. But I know in my heart that it is the only way to peace and joy. And we do not do it in our own strength. For me his strength and love have often times come by way of a ‘friend’. His Spirit in us produces ‘Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control’. When this fruit is given to us by His people in our times of brokenness it is healing to our souls. I’m sure you know this. Nina has been a wonderful friend in time of need. She has learned to give it forward out of her own brokenness and suffering. I am sorry for your loss and pray for the joy of the Lord to come over you and give you strength.
    -Patti

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I am truly blessed by your heart and encouraging words. I am sorry for the trials you have faced, but I can hear your strong faith and that is a wonderful. May God continue to shine His love on you.

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lessons from home
Hello! I'm Heather and this is Baby Joel, the youngest of five. At Lessons from Home you will find encouragement for your parenting and homeschooling journey. Healing from loss is also a major part of this blog as my family struggles through grief and brokenness at the loss of my beautiful 8 year old daughter.
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