When I was in second grade, an older kid on the playground tried to push me off the swings. I hollered and protested but to no avail. Thankfully a sixth-grader named Tony heard my pleas for help and crossed the playground with what seemed like a single stride staring down my opponent with a look that no one dared challenge. My bully slinked away defeated, and I was overcome with triumph and pure joy as we celebrated the victory with a triple-under-dog push on the swings. To this day, I don’t remember the fear or trouble of the conflict, only the joy of having found such a friend and defender.
Often in the Bible, we see that joy and trouble seem to hold hands. It’s easy sometimes to think that joy is the natural response to everything being alright in our world. But if that were true, we would hardly ever experience any sense of joy. Even though we may have seasons where most things are going right, it’s rare they stay that way for long. Joy doesn’t come only in the absence of trouble but is made all the more meaningful and more pronounced by the presence of trouble.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”
In times of trouble, those who put their trust in Jesus have reason to rejoice—not because the battle is over, but because they are sheltered in the midst of the battle. God doesn’t always eliminate the trouble, but he does give us protection and will defend us in the middle of it. He is faithful to hear our cries and works powerfully on our behalf when we call His name for help.
In John 16:33, Jesus acknowledges that there will be trouble in this life, but in the same breath, He reminds us to take heart because He has already overcome anything we could ever face. We can trust Jesus to know what we are going through and to help us in our need. In fact, in the very next chapter, Jesus prays for all believers. That includes us!
Let that sink in for a second. Jesus prayed for us. And with Jesus praying for us, there’s no trouble in the world that could dim the joy of being loved by the ultimate Defender, Savior, and Friend.
Yes, life is hard. Impossibly hard at times. We can go through seasons where the trouble never seems to end. But when we choose to turn our hearts toward the source of our salvation, instead of focusing solely on our situation, that same trouble and turmoil can serve to push us into the open arms of Jesus where real joy lives. We can rejoice again because God is worthy of our trust. We can shout for joy because we are His children and He defends us.
Whatever you are facing today, I pray that you know you are not alone and that there is joy waiting in the arms of our Savior Jesus. Let Him hold you close as He restores your heart, and renews your joy.