I had to discipline them.
Several years ago two of my daughters had been willfully disobedient and I had to confront it. I sat them on their bed and expressed my displeasure and disappointment in their behavior. I was upset and I let them know it.
When I finished, my oldest daughter sat on her hands and looked at me with tearful eyes. “Daddy,” she said. “Are you happy?”
Was I happy?
No, not at the moment, I was upset, frustrated, disappointed. But her question hit me on a much deeper level and conviction set in.
I didn’t hear her asking if I was happy right then and there; I heard her asking if I was happy, if I had joy, the kind only knowing God can bring.
Her question burned in my head for days following that confrontation. Was I happy? Truly happy? Was my life characterized by joy? Did the joy of the Lord fill my soul and overflow to those around me? Or did I allow the disappointments and frustrations of life to smother the joy flame in my heart? Did moodiness and discontent characterize me more than joy?
I wanted true happiness, genuine joy.
Tucked away in the book of Habakkuk is a passage that pricked my conscience.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior (3:17-18, NIV).
But why? Why should we be joyful, why should we rejoice and maintain our happiness?
Verse 19 has the answer:
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Here are six things to keep in mind when circumstances threaten to rob you of your joy.
1. Circumstances are temporary. We live in two planes, the temporal and the eternal. Things of this world are only for a moment, they’re fleeting, passing events.
2. God’s grace is sufficient to carry you through whatever valley you’re navigating. You don’t know this until you experience it and once you experience it you’ll never forget it.
3. With God there is always hope. Sooner or later, all sorrow, all suffering, every trial will fade away and joy will truly rule the day. Look forward to that.
4. Joy is a choice and a matter of perspective. It’s yours for the choosing, don’t let anyone or anything take it away from you.
5. True inner joy can only come from a relationship with God. Solomon searched for the joy this world had to offer and found it empty, vain, like chasing the wind.
6. Recognize, there is a time for sadness, for mourning, for weeping, even for righteous anger. But true joy and happiness eventually rises above everything else because we know our future is set, the victory is ultimately ours.
Are you happy? How have you experienced the joy of the Lord despite failing circumstances around you?