I often hear people say something like, “Joy is eternal. You can’t always be happy but you can always have joy.”
Lately, I feel the opposite. I can laugh with family and friends, smile to greet someone I know, enjoy a dinner out or a walk through my garden. But those happy moments drift unsupported over a dark abyss. I have no joy.
I want to believe God when He says Joy comes in the morning but there is no joy in this mourning. In this mourning, emptiness reigns, like a void that devours light and robs breath from your lungs.
Even in the midst of blessings, of sunshine and daisies and ice cream at the farm and family movies and just being an American with clean water and shelter and food in the pantry, I can be happy – grateful even – but I have no joy.
Does this make me a bad Christian? Is my faith too small? Am I far from God?
But wait. If God says, Joy comes in the morning, then something else must come before that morning, something other than joy.
And there it is. Why do we so often leave off the previous verse? Why, even as followers of the suffering Savior, do we avoid the sharp edges, the hard realities of life?
Weeping comes. Darkness comes. Weeping. Darkness. And then joy. I imagine Jesus knew this more than anyone.
So while the essence of joy may be eternal, maybe sometimes our sorrow and tears drown out the feelings of joy, dousing the spark that warms and lightens our days.
Perhaps I need not add guilt to my grief. My joylessness is not a failure or a symptom of weak faith. And I am surely not far from the God who draws near to the brokenhearted. I find a bit of peace in that.
But what if this mourning never ends? How will I ever find a new morning? And if I can’t find the morning, will I know joy again?
Some losses change you. Some gaping holes cannot be filled. Some scars never fade.
But God says, Joy comes. Not joy may come, but joy comes. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not 30 days from now or even 30 weeks from now. But some day, some time, joy comes.
God never tells us how long the night will last. But He does promise it won’t last forever. Joy comes.
So I will try to hold on to hope. I will fix my eyes on the light that is coming for the heart that holds on. I will wait until joy finds me.
And in the waiting, I will remind myself, as the clock ticks slowly through the hours, that even if this mourning lingers long until the dawn of a heavenly morning, joy will come.
(Hope is What We) Crave by King & Country