I Choose Joy Over Heaviness
Heaviness is oppressive, and combating heaviness can be an overwhelming endeavor. The good news is, we can choose joy over heaviness. We have that authority and we need to exercise it, because at one point or another, we all experience the weight of heaviness in our lives.
We are going to define heaviness as sadness, sorrow, dejection of mind, sluggishness, dullness of spirit, weight or a burden that seems to overshadow everything else. This is not a unique feeling; it is one that has been experienced by our forefathers for generations. Psalm 42:5 (NIV) asks: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” We often don’t know the specific reason that we feel heavy; it just feels like the entire world is pressing down on our chests. We can examine our hearts to find what the heaviness is feeding on, which can help us deal effectively with it.
- We can often be heavy with hurts from the past. Lamentations 3:19-20 (NIV) says: “I remember my affliction and my wondering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” It can be easy to let the past get us down. Everyone has felt this at one time or another, so don’t think you are the only one lying awake at night regretting things you have done or reliving horrible experiences. You are most certainly not alone.
- We can experience being heavy with trouble in the present. It is written in Job 4:5 (NIV): “But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.” Job certainly felt the heaviness of the present when he was enduring a multitude of woes as well as sickness. We all have felt that way, overwhelmed and distressed by the hard circumstances we are in the midst of. God has seen us through before, but it can be hard to remember that when you are struggling day-to-day.
- We can also feel heavy with anxiety about the future. Even Jesus felt anxiety over the future when he looked to the cross. Mark 14:33-34 (NIV) tells us: “…[Jesus] began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…’” If even Jesus felt this, you can take comfort that you are not alone nor are you weak for feeling these emotions.
Heaviness is something we all feel (even Jesus did when he was on earth!), but we simply cannot wallow in it. We have to decide to choose joy over the heaviness that attacks us, and while it takes effort, it is well worth it. Now that we have taken a look at how heaviness can beat us down when we don’t combat it, let us take a look at joy and where it comes from:
- Joy comes from being in God’s presence. Psalm 16:11 (ESV) says: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” When we spend time in God’s presence, it aligns us with His will and we are better able to shake off the burdens of the world we live in. That is why reading the Bible daily and resting in His presence is so vital. The joy of the Lord is like a superpower; we can overcome things we never thought we could when we have the joy of the Lord in our hearts. Nehemiah 8:10b (ESV) declares: “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Remember that you have access to that strength, regardless of what you are facing.
- Joy comes from right relationships. There is incredible joy in healthy, right relationships, and we are stronger when we are united in God’s purpose. Philippians 1:3-5 (TPT) says: “My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel.” Righteous friendships are a crucial part of walking in joy, because we were made to desire deep relationships, first with God and then with our fellow man. Joy springs up like a fountain from those right relationships, so spend time with those who encourage you in the Lord.
- Joy comes from a grateful heart. Gratefulness changes how we look at the world around us, but it also changes us on the inside. It is transformative, and the joy that comes from thanksgiving and gratefulness can change how we look at our circumstances on a daily basis. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG) instructs us: “Be joyful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” A heart full of gratitude is the only healthy way to live, and joy pours forth from a thankful heart.
When we seek out joy and choose it over the heaviness that seeks to crush us, it changes not only how we see the world and our circumstances but how we live out the plans God has for us. We can decide to walk the path of joy by spending time in God’s presence, having righteous relationships with others, and having a grateful heart. We will all have times where we struggle with this, but with God on our side, we can overcome heaviness and embrace joy.