Spiritual StrugglesWhen you struggle spiritually, how do you react?
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[The king] shouts with joy. . . for you have given him his heart’s desire
My high school trigonometry book was the size
and heft of two bricks placed side-by-side. I can
still see its cover—cherry red with black
lettering. I probably damaged my posture by hunching
over that textbook for hours at a time—reviewing
concepts late into the night. Still, I struggled to understand
trigonometry’s sliced-up circles, cosines, and square roots.
Spiritually speaking, there’s another concept I find
difficult to grasp: joy. My Bible dictionary says that joy is
a quality—not just an emotion—derived from God, which
characterizes a Christian’s life. Nice definition, but we need
to know how to apply this information.
David experienced joy as he praised God for His
blessings. The shepherd boy turned king “shout[ed] with
joy” (Psalm 21:1) because God had granted him His heart’s
desire. David’s blessings included success, prosperity,
rescue from death, a leadership position, long life, and
access to God’s unfailing love (vv.3-7). David rejoiced in the
success and victory that God had given him—success that
came about because he trusted in God (v.7).
Maybe you’re thinking, Of course David was joyful—
look at everything God furnished for him! Israel’s king,
however, also endured intense heartache, defeat, and fear.
David failed at fatherhood (1 Kings 1:6), fled from assassins
(1 Samuel 1:18), messed up morally (2 Samuel 11:2),
and lost an infant (2 Samuel 2:19). Through it all, his relationship
with God enabled him to have joy. He testified, “Those who
look to [God] for help will be radiant with joy” (Psalms 34:5).
God provides many other sources of joy for believers: His presence (Psalms 21:6),
forgiveness for sin (Psalms 32:1), His Word (Jeremiah 15:16), and answered prayer (John 16:24). These features of our faith allow us to learn about joy during difficulty, as
well as during life’s mountaintop moments.
What impact might a joyful attitude have on both believers and
unbelievers in your life? What are some creative ways to express joy?
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