The more Christians I meet and interact with the more and more I see how many Christians truly struggle to find joy in their lives. Even as I examine my own life, I feel that I have this constant battle going on to be joyful. In fact it seems that I find myself just as often battling against discouragement as I am filled with joy. Why is this? Why do so many Christians struggle to be filled with joy? The heart of the answer to our question lies with one of two things–either sin or unbelief.
To start, let’s look at sin. In our culture and in our society sin is not a word that we typically like to talk about. Instead of labeling something as sin we try to pawn it off as a bad decision or perhaps bad judgement. This type of thinking is not helpful. Rather, we should call sin for what it is and flee from it and forsake it. We need to see sin as evil, as an offense against God, and as a robber of joy. We need to see both the admittance and the turning away from sin not as a personal weakness; rather, as one of the great gifts God has given us. God loves us enough to offer forgiveness when we turn from sin–what a blessing! As you look at your joyless life quite possibly there is habitual sin that is stealing your joy.
Second, unbelief also is a great thief of joy. Unfortunately for sinful mankind we are always questioning God and his Word. I think we question him the most when things are not going the way we would like them to go. We struggle to believe that God is good, and that he indeed is working all things for our good. We doubt his goodness and doubt he will keep his Word to us. Before too long we are swimming in a sea of self pity with no joy.
One of the truths about the Christian faith is that we are in a true spiritual battle. In every sense we have to fight for the joy God has promised his people. We have to fight against the lures of sin that steal our joy and we have to fight to purpose in our hearts that God is for us and not against us. We have to purpose in our hearts that God is always true to his Word. We need to continue to preach the gospel to ourselves, that because of what Jesus did on the cross we are forgiven and wholly and completely loved by God the Father. We need to intentionally put ourselves in positions and places where we can do things that honor God and produce joy for ourselves. Read your Bible, pray in faith, serve others, share the gospel, practice the various spiritual disciplines with the hopes of not only bringing glory to God but also joy to yourself.
To go along with actively engaging in this battle I urge you to surround yourself with other brothers and sisters in Christ. The letter of Hebrews tells us to “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25). In your time of need lean on God and on his people. Call on your brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and encourage you. Do not let your own pride and self pity cause you to isolate yourself–that is one of the worst things you can do in this battle.
Finally, if you find yourself in a season of joylessness here are two books that I would recommend you to read. First, is the book “When I Don’t Desire God, How to Fight for Joy” by John Piper and the other is “Spiritual Depression, Its Causes and Cures” by Martin Lloyd Jones. I have found both of these books helpful and filled with many Scriptural truths to help fight the good fight of faith.
May God’s grace be found sufficient for you as you strive to live a joy-filled life to the glory of God!