For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to be my own knight in shining armor.
I’ve worked desperately to protect myself from getting hurt or from being hurt by others. But it can’t be accomplished. I’ve learned the hard way that pain is unavoidable.
All of our joy must be found in Christ or we will never stop being disappointed. We will never be satisfied.
When I was younger, we moved a lot. As a result, I became an insecure child. Every time we moved I would cry. I craved stability. I needed a place to call home. Then we would settle down somewhere, and I thought to myself, This is it. This is where we will be happy forever. Then we would move again.
Eventually, I grew so tired of new places, new people, new friends, new homes, that I stopped trying to like new things because I knew I would lose them.
I created my own gods, Security and Joy, and when moving (again) robbed me of these things, I felt shattered. Looking back I can see that I had placed my identity in an unobtainable image of myself. I pictured myself shielded from hurt, shielded from pain, in a world where I could control whether or not I would be happy.
How about you? Have you ever felt this way? Desperate to control your world, tired of being chronically let down by yourself and others?
Here’s the Catch
God knew that we all needed to be loved. He knew that we would all need joy to live in a world of sin without living in despair, but there’s a catch. All of our joy must be found in Christ or we will never stop being disappointed. We will never be satisfied.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Phil. 4:4).
Notice God’s Word doesn’t call us to “rejoice in our circumstances always” or “rejoice in our safety always” or even “rejoice in everything being okay always.” Our life may not always make us feel like rejoicing, but we can still sing with joy because of our good God and the good things He has in store for us.
A Prayer That Set Me Free
When I realized that fighting for joy would only make me miserable, I cried out to God and asked Him to set me free from trying to find my own joy apart from Him. Here’s what I prayed:
I’m surrendering control of my life to you. I keep trying to protect myself from getting hurt, but if I live like that I will never be happy.
Jesus, You alone can protect me. You alone know what the future holds. I just need to learn how to trust You, Jesus. Please give me more faith. Lord, forgive me for trying to control my life. Help me to remember to “be still and know” that You are God. Help me to trust that You will carry me.
Lord, Your way is easy and light. Help me to rest in that. Help me to rest in Your goodness, not in what I think will bring me happiness. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
Since praying that prayer, I’m learning that I don’t need to create my own joy when God can provide me with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). God has better plans in store for me than I could ever think or imagine possible.
Our life may not always make us feel like rejoicing, but we can still sing with joy because of our good God and the good things He has in store for us.
When I surrendered control of my will to God and asked Him to help me trust in His goodness, I was overwhelmed with peace. God truly came through for me and now, even though it still takes faith every day to trust Him with my well-being, I can live in freedom, knowing that by trusting Him He is making me more into the image of His Son. What a beautiful thought!
Laying Down Your Boxing Gloves
How about you? Do you fight for your own joy and happiness? Do you feel the need to protect yourself from anything that might rob you of joy?
Changing that might not come easily. Charles Swindoll described the process this way:
We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.
But it’s a crisis of faith worth having!
How do you try to create your own joy? Would you write out a prayer below asking God to help you rejoice in Him alone?