Have you ever had a season of joylessness? I sure have. Even as a mature Christian I’ve had times in my life when I just didn’t have the joy I once had. But I believe there’s an prescription for those times and I want to share with you what you can do when you’ve lost your joy.
His Name Was Jealous
On my recent trip to Zambia, Africa, I had the privilege of attending church at Mufutuli Vineyard Ministries. “Mufutuli” means Savior and “Vineyard” refers to the farm that provides food and funds for the church, orphanage, and school Pastor Charles Simoonga and his wife Mary began years ago. It’s a beautiful, life-giving place.
The service had just begun as our team arrives and a young man leads the congregation in a call to worship. His rich voice guides and the congregation echoes. His joy is contagious. I watch women-wearing-babies, precious orphans, and men crippled by disease worship with eyes fixed on him and Him. He claps and sways and marches from one side of the congregation to the other. It’s a cool morning but flushed cheeks and sweat drops reveal the work in his worship.
There are no instruments. None are needed.
My mind cannot understand the words yet my heart beats with praise. We are one, these strangers and me.
After the service, Pastor Charles and I stand shoulder to shoulder on dusty, holy ground and the joy-full worship leader walks up. I introduce myself and shake his hand. He says, “Nice to meet you. My name is Jealous.” Before I can catch my thoughts these words fly: “No! Your name is Joy! You are Joy!” He laughs shyly.
Pastor Charles speaks up. “Tell her your testimony.” I’ll never forget the look on his face as he inhales grace.
Very somberly, in his thick South African accent, he said, “I was stealing, fighting, drinking, and using many women. I was a very, very bad man.”
Then a smile as wide as the ocean broke across his face as he says, “But I met Pastor Charles and then I met Jesus.”
I grab the dark hands of my brother in Christ, “And that’s why you have joy. You ARE Joy!”
He nods and replies, “Yes! Yes. yes.”
I see him several times throughout our trip and each time I greet him, “Hello, Joy.” He nods and smiles in agreement.
On our last day at the farm I see him talking to Pastor Charles. As I approach them to say “Goodbye” Pastor Charles says, “He going to try and and have his name legally changed from Jealous to Joy. I hug him and say, “Because of Jesus, that’s who you really are.”
“Joy” is the young man in the yellow shirt below.
Where Joy Comes From
It’s important to remember that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit produced by God’s work in us. Joy is a gift from God and the response we choose as we become aware of His grace. We can have joy even in the most difficult circumstances because of the Holy Spirit. But I know from experience that even in the best of circumstances, joy can feel like a forgotten memory. Job, David, and Elijah all experienced joylessness and so will we. The good news is that we don’t have to remain joyless. God’s Word offers us some guidelines for when we’ve lost our joy.
What To Do When You’ve Lost Your Joy
Focus on God. Think about God. Read about God. Talk about God. Sing about God. He is the source of your joy as a believer. I’ve often made the mistake of over-thinking my joylessness. “Why am I joyless? How did I get here? What went wrong?” We get more of what we focus on. If we focus on our joylessness we get more joylessness. Focus on God and find your joy!
Read Psalm 118.
Talk to God. It’s easy to slip into the habit of telling others our troubles, fears, and frustrations but I’ve found rehearsing those aloud with others breeds joylessness. Confess your joylessness to the only One who can restore joy. Ask Him for what you need.
Read Philippians 4:6-7
Think about what you’re thinking about. You have the ability to control what you think. While unpleasant thoughts may slip into your mind you don’t have to let them stay. Choose what you think about and you’ll change your life.
Read Philippians 4:8
Make it your habit to follow the commands of God given in the Bible. I’ve found that one of my greatest sources of joylessness is disobedience. When you pray, ask God to reveal any unconfessed sin in your life and repent. As a believer, we will never know the joy of the Lord if we live in disobedience.
Read Genesis 4:7
Spend time with joyful believers. Seek out those who bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Fellowship with those who are intentional about growing in their faith.
Read Hebrews 10:19-25
If you’ve met Jesus then you have everything you need to have joy—to be Joy.
Father, helps us this day to focus, pray, think, obey, and connect. May we empty ourselves so that we can be filled with you. Lord, you are our joy. Let us never settle for joylessness for you have done great things for us and we are glad!