Do you ever lose things? Sunglasses, a debit card or your entire billfold? How about car keys or worse yet, your driver’s license? I can tell you so many stories! Most of the time things weren’t actually lost, thank goodness, they were just temporarily misplaced. Every once in a while, though, things simply vanish without a trace.
I have this jack rabbit brain, you see, (possibly a kind way of saying ADD though I have never actually been diagnosed) and my mind isn’t always in the same room as me. Sometimes I think it is on a different planet altogether!! It’s embarrassing! It isn’t quite as upsetting when we are in our thirties but once we blow past fifty, we become certain our mind is toast and we’re losing our marbles.
Do you know what’s just as easy to lose? It’s easy to lose our joy. Sometimes it occurs when life has beaten a person up or worn her down over a long stretch of time. That is, at least, somewhat understandable. The most puzzling thing is when something kind of minor sends you off the cliff into despair. It happens! Probably the most baffling thing is that it happens to joyful Christians, too. No one is immune to the occasional fall.
When a dedicated believer who knows the joy of walking in faith loses that joy, it is deeply distressing and extremely embarrassing. A gloomy Christian makes a rotten witness to faith. How does it happen and when it strikes, what do you do? I had a fall into joylessness recently. When I do, I take it really hard because it hurts two ways. The sense of gloom and hopelessness is bad enough but when you KNOW better and KNOW you have strayed from the right path it is doubly painful. In that state of mind, we feel stuck and powerless.
I actually Googled this, folks: “What to do when you have lost your joy.” It looks like a few others might have been wrestling with it, too, because there are pages and pages devoted to the subject. It certainly is not something unique to the age we are in. The Bible contains many examples; even some of God’s chosen ones experienced the same painful feelings at times.
Restoring our joy requires some thoughtful reflection and understanding. First of all, we are human and because of that, we are imperfect, that’s a fact. We fall prey to a host of human errors and I believe some of the most harmful ones are over-commitment and a too-full schedule, an unforgiving heart and worst of all, constantly comparing ourselves and our circumstances to others. All these things cause us to drift away from the only true source of lasting joy.
I know when I find myself “too busy” to spend time in prayer, reflection and studying God’s word it isn’t long before my feelings of gratitude and contentment begin to ebb. We must remember the words of John 15:5. To thrive and be joyful we must abide in God’s presence. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”.
You know how happy you feel when you find your debit card in a coat pocket or retrieve your car keys from a fast food wrapper in the trash can? They weren’t lost after all, only misplaced. Hallelujah! I think it’s the same way with joy. It is never really lost but sometimes we forget where we left it and it is always just a few prayers away.