Finding joy in​ life’s rollercoaster

Finding joy in​ life’s rollercoaster

Life’s Rollercoaster

I used to absolutely LOVE rollercoasters. My friends and I would go to Six Flags and ride the rollercoasters over and over again. If there wasn’t a line, we’d ask to just stay in our seats to ride back to back until we were forced to leave the ride. I loved that feeling of anticipation as we reached the top of the first incline, waiting for my stomach to feel like it was going to go right up through the top of my head. Every jerk and turn was met with screams of delight. The dizzier I felt after the ride, the better. It was glorious! Then I rode the Batman coaster as a 40-year-old. The twists and turns didn’t quite hit me the same way they used to. It was not a good feeling. I was just hoping to survive. Then I blacked out. That kind of describes the past year for me. 

2019 has had some incredible highs and devastating lows for my family. We’ve loved experiencing a run to the state finals for marching band with our son, relishing every moment of Bryan’s senior year of high school. We’ve also met crushing tragedy as my 11-year-old great-niece, Morgan, passed away after a very brief illness. I’ve watched my former students get married and sat with precious families as their worlds were turned upside down by the loss of loved ones. I’ve been so happy that I can’t wipe the smile off of my face and so sad that I could barely get out of bed. It has truly been a roller coaster of emotions. 

Similar but very different

As we focus on joy this week, it may be hard for some of us to find. We can be jerked in so many directions by our circumstances that we just hope to survive. We can dismiss the concept of joy as “just another emotion” that comes and goes. We confuse joy with happiness. They are not the same, though they are similar. The difference between the two is that happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is a state of being.

Having joy doesn’t mean we are insulated from ever experiencing negative emotions. In the Psalms, David can often be seen expressing frustration, depression, and disappointment to God, and yet he had joy. Living a joy-filled life doesn’t mean we ignore the hardships of life. It means we experience those hardships while in relationship with God and with other followers of Jesus.

Spending time in prayer allows us to vent our negative emotions to God as David did, but also allows the Holy Spirit to speak to our spirits and remind us of his goodness. Surrounding ourselves with other believers opens the door for mutual support and reminding one another just how good God really is. True joy is found when we allow ourselves to be reminded of the goodness of God and release the burdens we carry. 

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7