“Look to Him that you may be radiant in joy.” Psalm 34:5
There have been times when “joy” was the farthest emotion or even comforting thought from my mind. When you’re depressed, anxious, obsessive, or somewhat paranoid (in the sense of interpreting everything as evidence you are somehow flawed) the last thing you feel or think about is joy. In fact, all you do is practically shout, “Get out! Get out!” to the emotional pain.
Then comes respite in the form of brief moments when you’re lost in a baby’s cooing, a puppy’s antics, or a beautiful sunrise. These moments of relief can come when kneeling in church during adoration imagining your self on the cross with Jesus or when you know you are part of a community as you sing common songs during mass. Comfort comes in hearing with your own ears the words of absolution during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s concrete so no imagination is necessary thank God. Yes thank Him! Tasting with your own tongue bread and wine and believing God comes inside you even if don’t feel or understand it and all you can dispassionately say is, “I believe. Lord, help my unbelief!” That is the joy of faith, knowing you don’t have to feel a positive emotion in your being to believe and belief well.
The joy of faith is when we pray to, “Immanuel, God is with us” even when our thoughts are preoccupied with doubt and emotional suffering. In other words, when there is no respite. St. Jane de Chantal said, “suffering borne in THE WILL quietly and patiently is a continual, very powerful prayer before God, regardless of the complaints and anxieties that come from the inferior part of the soul.”
You see the joy of faith is not dependent on the “joy” in the emotions. Yet sometimes God still gives us brief moments of “joy” so we can persevere in the joy of faith. He reaches out to us, enticing us to turn our gaze at Him who abides in all things.
Give thanks and praise to God when you find yourself momentarily lost in things outside your painful self. Allow yourself to be strengthened with comfort and emotional joy so you can know the joy of the Lord.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those crushed in spirit He saves… Look to Him that you maybe radiant with joy.” Psalm 34:18,5.
Painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642) is public domain in the U.S.