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On the search for joy

a woman holding a sparkler after dark

Emotional pain. I think its most annoying aspect is the inability to escape it.

We eat, exercise, drink, read, travel, talk… we go on a high-powered search for relief, a reprieve. Some days are better than others. Some moments we find fleeting distractions during the day or, perhaps, simply give in to attempted sleep. But there is an annoying, impolite nagging of pain that can taunt us wherever we are, whatever we are doing. And its persistent presence can downright wear us out.

For many, it intensifies during the holiday seasons.

I have loved ones who are months, some years, on this search for a valid run-away, a righteous place to escape from the low-hanging cloud that can make the sunniest day gray.

I know the powerful grip of this uninvited guest. Most of my life has been a gentle, loving journey, but occasionally I’ve been gripped by a pain Advil was never designed to dull. And in those moments, when I am quiet long enough to listen, I pray for those whose life journey is endlessly accompanied by emotional pain… a childhood without love, the betrayal of a spouse, the separation of a loved one, and much more.

Is there a way to find the JOY that is bolder than this desperate feeling of despair?

Recently I shared a verse with a friend that the Lord used to carry me through the pain of grief. The truth became my everyday assignment, and it worked.

Search for peace and work to maintain it.

- PSALM 34:14

I found peace – that deep heart assurance that the Lord, indeed, has a plan for today and tomorrow. He taught me how to name the lie I was tempted to believe and counter punch it with truth.

He IS powerful. His plan IS good. And I AM loved.

But joy. That seems to require a higher-powered dosage of whatever is a stepped-up version of peace.

Peace can know all will be okay. Joy begs for more. Joy longs for the smile…the laughter to return.

May I suggest GRATITUDE?

That’s the medicine that works best for me. I begin listing ways God loves me, one after another, sometimes page after page. When I shift my glance from me to how much He loves me, my heart seems to find its way to joy again.

I don’t mean to pass out a one-size-fits-all solution when the dark clouds roll in. God knows us intimately and whispers to us in ways we can best understand and embrace. Seeking Him is worth all the time and effort necessary to blow away that persistent, low-hanging cloud.

For me the old hymn “Count your many blessings, name them one by one” – is often God’s whisper as I seek to discover joy again.

Pull up a chair and sit still

a chair at a table with a vase of tulips

How is the Lord teaching you to seek peace… all the way to joy? It may require repeating day after day after day.


Thanks for sitting still with me today.

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