Here is the devotional:
Everyone has an instinct reaction to escape pain. This is good for us. It’s the reason we’ve survived as long as we have.
But this reaction can also hurt us. If we keep escaping the pain of negative emotions, we won’t know how to grow through them.
In the Bible, we see many of the disciples and major players grow through their negative emotions to arrive at the joy that’s on the other side.
One of the greatest obstacles to joy is our inability to sit with negative emotions.
We try to escape them, ignore them, and numb them, but these actions only increase the strength of our stressors.
We instead need to allow our negative emotions, and not fear facing them.
But how can we increase our capacity to face negative emotions?
We need to hold onto the truth that joy is on the other side of facing our emotions. This understanding builds the courage to face difficult emotions.
In John 16:20, Jesus tells the disciples that they will weep and lament, but their sorrow will turn to joy. He doesn’t say they will have a sadness they could ignore. He says they will be so grieved that they will actually weep. In other words, Jesus is saying they will feel the fullness of their negative emotion.
But on the other side of that emotion is joy. Their deep sorrow will turn to joy.
The Bible is not about us running from our emotions. It’s about facing them, and finding the joy on the other side. If we don’t face them, there’s no joy to be had.
Consider Psalm 30:5 where it says joy comes in the morning. Weeping will be in the night, but joy comes after the weeping.
Or consider all the emotions the people in the book of Nehemiah go through (anger, sadness, fear, etc.) before Nehemiah tells them that the joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Or consider all the emotions David goes through in Psalm 22, just before the famous Psalm 23.
The Bible is clear: we are not meant to run from our pain, but face it, long enough to find the joy of God on the other side.
Today, consider what negative emotions you’re afraid to face. Instead of running from them, allow yourself to feel them. And pray to God that His joy meets you on the other side. As you do this more and more, you increase your capacity to face hard things, and thus, open yourself to more joy.
It’s true that joy comes in the morning. But it’s not without facing the sorrow of the night. Carry this truth with you today, and know that you are able to face hard things.
Here are the scriptures referenced:
A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?
They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.
Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
I will extol thee, O Lord ; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.
O Lord , thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing unto the Lord , O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
Lord , by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.
I cried to thee, O Lord ; and unto the Lord I made supplication.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?
Hear, O Lord , and have mercy upon me: Lord , be thou my helper.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Psalms 30:1-12 KJV
And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.
And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
Nehemiah 8:9-12 KJV
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
But be not thou far from me, O Lord : O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Ye that fear the Lord , praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord : and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s : and he is the governor among the nations.
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Psalms 22:1-31 KJV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalms 23:1-6 KJV
Here are Stu’s thoughts:
Man oh man…haven’t we all had our fair share of sorrow?!?
I mean come on. How many can you name?
Loss of a loved one, termination of employment, natural disasters hitting way to close to home, a break up, a wayward child, a spouse who cheated, illnesses taking not the body but the mind of those we love, rape, a kidnapped child, a molested child, and sometimes just having wake up in the morning knowing you have to put a smile on for family and the world when you’d rather just stay in bed and cry.
Those are a few. There are tons more. And we each handle them differently.
Some cling tighter to God while others run from Him.
Some instead of seeking God during this type of sorrows they turn to outside “stimuli” for relief.
I’ve done both! As I am sure many people have.
But when I ran from God my problems got worse as did my anxiety and depression. And yes I turned to alcohol and sex as a means to numb my emotions.
We all know how that works…
When I came out of that drunken stupor my problems were still there and sometimes worse. The depression was worse because I felt guilty for what I had done.
But when I turned to back to God things started to slowly change. Would I say I had that joy joy joy down in my heart? No, not really because it didn’t happen over night.
Having joy is a choice. I chose to read God’s Word, I chose to pray and cry out to Him, I chose to fight my physical urges and not give in. I chose to confront my fears head on knowing God was in my corner.
That’s not easy at first but it does get easier day by day.
Just as having joy can get easier and easier day by day.
As 2021 bites us with another strain of Covid, more stupidity in the political world, and people continuing to spew hatred for one another let us as true Christians confront our fears, face our sorrows with an inward joy because of who Christ is and what He has done for us!
And soon that inward joy will slowly leak out and others will see the joy in our lives despite the problems we face.
*This may not go with what the speaker was talking about or even the verses he used, but it was on my heart so I put it to words*