Our family is in the midst of a challenging year. While the Lord has poured out blessings to the point of overflow, we’ve also experienced significant loss in a variety of forms. Through it all, we have worked hard to cling to our joy. We understand the importance of finding joy during times of both celebration and difficulty since it helps us rest in the sovereignty of God.
Joy doesn’t always present itself in constant happiness, cheer, or delight. God gives us an abiding level of joy as we watch for and experience His presence, care, and involvement in our lives. So, to say that we are joyful during loss has little to do with our smiles or mood. Since joy is a characteristic of the fruit of the Holy Spirit—evidence that God’s Spirit and His power dwell within us—it’s not an emotion based on circumstances.
As we experience periods of sorrow, the focus we place on Christ helps determine the level of our joy. Through our relationship and reliance on Him, we can maintain a spirit of joy even when grief feels overwhelming.
I like to think of it this way: I know to whom I belong and know that His Holy Spirit dwells in me. I abide in Christ, His power fills me, and even when I think my tears shall never cease, the joy in my heart still makes me glad. Yes. This is a mystery but is evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Through the highs and lows of this tumultuous year, we’ve adopted several strategies that help us find joy come what may. Here are 4 strategic practices that I pray will bless you:
Find Joy After Loss by Soaking in the Scriptures.
God’s Word has power and it offers steadfast truth that comforts our hearts. Psalm 119:28 is one of the verses on which this ministry was founded. It reminds me, daily, of the strength that God offers to us through the Bible. It says, “I am weary from grief; strengthen me through Your word” (HCSB). God stands at the ready to strengthen, encourage, and help us discover His abiding joy, even through grief. His strength comes to us through the truth of His Word.
If you’re new to the Bible and or don’t know where to turn for comfort, here are a few starting points:
Our God cares for us at a level that is beyond our understanding. He has made Himself available to hold us up when we feel we don’t have the strength to take another step. When we soak in His Word, His truths become our own and we can supernaturally rely on Him as a source of sustaining help.
Find Joy After Loss by Seeking the Lord’s Comfort.
I prepared a short (3 min) video on Facebook to discuss this a little further. You can find that uplifting video here.
By allowing ourselves to feel and express our sorrow instead of trying to suppress our feelings, we can turn to the Lord for help. Burying our feelings and trying to push them away only delay our healing and joy. But expressions of grief and showing our vulnerability helps us receive the comfort only He can provide. We walk in the presence of the Lord, Himself. That, the Bible says, is where we find the fullness of joy.
Find Joy After Loss by Remembering the Good.
When we are separated from something we’re fond of, the process of loss seems more painful. Enjoy the process of reminiscing and thank the Lord for the good that you received. When memories come at surprising (and often inopportune) times, don’t push them away to avoid tears. Instead, take a few moments to smile through the sadness as your recall happy moments.
Find Joy After Loss by Embracing Your Own Personality.
If you have an extroverted temperament, you’ll find consolation through gathering with friends and commiserating. One way to completely neglect your own needs is to withdraw into isolation or disengage and move toward solitude. But spending time with others will fuel your comfort.
Conversely, if you’re more of an introvert, crowds are apt to make you feel as if you’re living in a fishbowl with everyone watching to see how you’ll process your grief. Acknowledge your temperament and take the space and time you need in your own comfortable environment. Then, as healing starts to take hold, slowly engage with others who are eager to express their condolences.
Remember, we don’t have to forsake our abiding level of joy in the Lord when we encounter loss and sorrow. Jesus is ready to offer comfort, hope, and encouragement. His glory surrounds us. He lifts our heads and relieves our distress. Joy after loss comes when we access it through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Jesus takes joy seriously. It’s a gift that we should not forsake. In fact, Jesus prayed that joy in the Father would be fulfilled in us to the point of overflowing (see John 17:13). Even as we suffer and grieve.
May you find great joy in your journey,