The Joy of the Lord

Today is day one of my 30-day blog challenge. I have never done a daily blog so I was a bit stumped as to what to share with you today. All morning my spirit has been reminded about the “joy of the Lord” being my strength, so I might as well jump into things with some reflections on ‘happiness’ and ‘joy’.

I just finished reading the book “The Secret Power of Joy” by Pastor Mark Hankins. I was given this book by one of my pastors during a particularly bad day. You know, the kind where you sob all through church and can’t remember what the teaching was about. It was that kind of day where I felt completely defeated as a parent and I just knew I was messing up my kids forever.

Anyway, I was given Pastor Hankins’ book and I took one look at the title and decided that it was not something I wanted to read. As I’ve shared on this blog before, I suffer from clinical depression. I have sat through many church services where depression is likened to ‘sadness’ and the pastor said all you had to do was ‘get happy’. Frankly, I was offended by such simplistic and dismissive response to a complex disease. Even with medication it can be almost impossible to will yourself into being happy.

I didn’t believe that these well-meaning pastors were naïve or ignorant and I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. There were many times when I just wanted to get up and leave or try to find another church. That was not the answer. I wanted to learn what God had to teach me. The first thing I did was to choose not to be offended. That is definitely a choice I can make. I chose to listen so I could be clear about the message that was being preached. I also wanted confirmation from God’s Word.

Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Psa 144:15 (KJV)

Here and in other scriptures it is clear that our happiness is based on our relationship with God. This type of happiness is not circumstantial or fleeting. I can have the disease of depression, and yet be happy because I am in Him, the Father, the Creator of the universe is my LORD. When we can find that depth of happiness, our spiritual response is to rejoice and praise God.

Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Luke 6:23 (KJV)
Our relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ makes our spirit happy. When our spirit is happy, we rejoice; and when we rejoice it brings us to the place of joy.
I chose to open my mind and heart to what God was trying to teach me. I chose to work through my emotions and stubbornness to discover truth.  I chose to read “The Secret Power of Joy” and I’m glad I did.
I may always have depression that needs medical intervention, but  I will not let that diagnosis steal my happiness or the joy I have found in living for Jesus.

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