When I was a kid, I used to listen to Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” CD’s. (Or were they cassette tapes? Whatever.. it was WAY back then!) He literally put scripture to music and, to this day, I can remember a ton of it.
One song was from Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
My spirit was crushed last week (and that’s putting it mildly). I felt as if I were suffocating in unbearable pain. My heart despaired. For months I had prayed only to come face-to-face with the acceptance that God’s answer to those prayers was “No” or “Not now.”
He asked me to trust Him, and I wanted to pull away. I felt betrayed. Like a child, I wanted to sit, pout, cry, beat on the walls, scream in a pillow, negotiate, and beg that He change His mind. (And, okay, I may have actually done some or all of it). I wanted my way or, at the very least, a darn good explanation on why everything was being allowed to happen.
“All things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28) Yeah, well, that wasn’t very comforting at the time. I wanted to know the specifics of how that verse applied to my situation and to be on the “in” of what God was doing. It’s a good thing God is patient because I was in full out tantrum mode and it was uuuuuuugly!
Isn’t it awesome and humbling that the God of the universe allows us to come before Him in our brokenness and just pour it out even though He already knows? I can have real dialogue with Him that is not one sided. It’s part of the beauty of a relationship with Him.
As I calmed down, He assured me of His presence.
I can’t make the storm go away, but I must choose how to respond to it.
The truth in my situation is that things are probably going to get worse before they get better. This storm might rage on for years. I may never see the end of it. I don’t want to waste time wallowing in the “depths of despair” (as Anne Shirley would say) if there’s another option. I want peace. I want… Joy.
Yes, “joy in the hard times” sounds great and everything, but how do you find it when your world seems to be falling apart or you’re so numb that you wonder if your heart is still beating?
God asked something of me when I stopped kicking and began to listen.
Well, that wasn’t what I expected to hear, but I began to praise God for His attributes.
“You are GOOD…even when it doesn’t seem like it. You are FAITHFUL… even when I am not. Your ways are WISE… mine are foolish. You are JUST. You are MERCIFUL. You are my COUNSELOR. You are SOVEREIGN. You are TRUE. Your ways are PERFECT. You…. ARE.”
I have turned on worship music at every opportunity in an attempt to just saturate myself with Truth even when I’m completing mindless tasks throughout the day.
Here’s a shocker for you: It would seem that God knew what He was doing when He instructed me to praise Him. An incredible thing happened as I began to do so.
In the midst of great sorrow and even despair, I discovered that joy comes through worshiping God.
This doesn’t mean that He has made everything “better” (as I would define it). He is not a genie whose sole ambition is to make me happy. In His love and wisdom, His aim is to make me holy. That process can hurt. The storm remains. l still feel pain and sorrow. God’s answer to my prayers have not been altered.
But my crushed spirit is experiencing healing through a joy that results in praising a God who is worthy. He is worthy despite my circumstances.
So, if your heart is broken or your world is turned upside down, let me encourage you to praise Him. Start by keeping an ongoing conversation with Him. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word. Camp out in the Psalms. If ever a man laid it all out before God, it was David.
A joyful heart truly is good medicine.
“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”