Sometimes in this life, we go through some STUFF. It’s hard stuff that makes us cry, and makes us cry out to God. As believers who’ve walked with God through some messy times, we’ve learned not to ask ‘why’ (because we know that he works for the good of those who love Him) but to try to seek out what we can learn during these times.
I make that sound kind of easy and no-nonsense. Like I’ve just decided not to dwell on the bad but to learn something from this experience. But as anyone knows, of course, it’s not that easy at all. And finding meaning in the struggle is certainly not something I can do by my own limited power and understanding.
Pain offers perspective. Like a child running to a parent after falling down, I automatically seek that closeness with my Heavenly Father when I’m hurting. And this drawing near enables me to put aside lesser things and experience our relationship as he always intends for me to be – dependent on Him instead of running around all ‘in control’ of my own life. It’s in these times that I hear from him in a way that I’m normally not able to when I’m just coasting by in life.
Years ago, we bought the ‘Hynms’ CD by Page CXVI, a musical project that started with the idea of making hymns accessible and known again. Having grown up with pretty traditional church backgrounds, we both appreciated the fact that these were beautiful songs that we were familiar with, but with a cool, more modern twist. But hands-down, we were both baffled by one track on the CD – the group’s adaptation of the traditionally lighthearted preschool song ‘I’ve Got the Joy.’
I mean, take a listen to ‘Joy,’ my friends. This song is straight up melancholy. It’s sung in such a way that the tone is completely in opposition to the lyrics themselves. So odd. And WHY?
But recently, we got in the car and my husband randomly popped in this CD. For real, who listens to CDs anymore? My car doesn’t even have a player. BUT I’m so glad we did, because we both got this song and knew it was meant for us to hear on this day.
Our current circumstances helped us to realize the true intent behind this rendition of the song. In this sense, the painful stuff offered us a gift – a new understanding of what it means to have joy. Our happiness can be circumstantial. But our joy is felt much deeper. It’s eternal because it comes from the one who is the beginning and the end. It’s something that we feel as we listen to our children laugh, as we sing at the top of our lungs and as we hang sparkly ornaments on our Christmas tree. Yet it’s also something that we cling to when we’re not okay or when things don’t turn out how we thought they might. Even when we’re beat-up and weary, we can cry out joy.
And this better joy is something that we can carry with us and share with others through the good times and the bad. And that’s something to be so very happy about.
I‘ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
And I’m so happy
So very happy
And I can’t understand
And I can’t pretend
That this will be alright in the end
So I’ll try my best
And lift up my chest
To sing about this … joy, joy, joy.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou has taught me to say
It is well, It is well. With my soul.
Abbreviated ‘Joy’ lyrics from Page CXVI Hymns