Fighting for Holy Joy When Divorce Drains You
“You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” (John 16:20b, NLT)
The woman I once was seemed to be a thing of the past.
Months of emotional trauma following separation and divorce — tangled with more insurmountable problems and fears than one could handle — had finally taken their toll.
At times, it felt like merely breathing was work. On some days, just forcing myself to get out of bed was a challenge. All I really wanted to do was stay buried in the dark and not deal with my new reality.
My spirit was crushed.
My hope was failing.
My prayers seemed unheard.
Although people would often comment about how strong I was, I was weak and dying inside. I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders while battling stress, giant insecurities, hurt and depression. My brain couldn’t even entertain the thought of ever being happy again.
But I so desperately longed to be.
When life is hard, tragedy strikes, rejection stings, marriages end or joy-robbing problems seem hopeless with no end in sight, true happiness and peace can become nothing more than a memory. We can gradually lose our will to fight for joy.
But in John 15 and 16, Jesus encourages us that, no matter our situation, God can turn our sorrow to joy.
In Chapter 15, Jesus was teaching the disciples the importance of standing firm in their faith and finding joy in Him alone. (John 15:11) He knew life was about to get overwhelmingly sorrowful for them because of His impending suffering and crucifixion. Difficulties often usher in doubts of God’s goodness, so He also gave a warning in John 16:1 — “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith” (NLT).
Then, in today’s key verse, Jesus gave His disciples great hope: “You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy” (John 16:20b).
The disciples didn’t fully understand. But what Jesus knew was that, while His death would bring utter heartbreak and sadness, after He was risen their mourning would turn to a joy that could never be taken away from them.
Jesus didn’t tell them they wouldn’t have any more troubles in life. In fact, He said exactly the opposite in John 16:33. But He did promise that, in due time, their weeping would convert to celebration, and their faith would become the ultimate source of their happiness despite their circumstances.
We are all going to have struggles, disappointments and heartbreak. But holy joy gives us courage to smile when our hearts are broken, strengthens us to persevere when we feel like giving up, fuels us to stand strong in faith when hope wavers, and equips us to trust that Jesus can always bring beauty out of brokenness. Joy from Christ is life-giving.
Let’s fast-forward two years from the morning I didn’t want to get out of bed, to the day I went outside early one morning to go for a walk. The sun was shining brightly, causing the dew on the grass to shimmer and sparkle. The air was crisp and smelled of sweet honeysuckles and gardenias. Birds were chirping. Two baby bunnies were munching on clovers in the yard. A neighbor waved and smiled as she passed by with her dog.
Then, out of nowhere, an unexpected sense of happiness welled up in my spirit. I felt lighthearted, giddy and full of peace as the sun’s warmth kissed my cheeks. All these emotions, which I had thought I’d never feel again, totally caught me off guard. Tears came to my eyes as I realized I was no longer where I used to be. And the joyful woman I once was? She was making a comeback.
The struggle had ended. Not the daily struggles of life — those still existed and always would. But the struggle for happiness and the ability to love myself and my life as it was — that fight was over. Joy had returned. Redemption had won.
My grief had been so suffocatingly heavy, but over time, just as He promises, God truly turned my sorrow into joy.
Faith is the key to having the willpower to fight for joy even when we feel as if we have no fight left in us. Trust that God will give you the joy of Christ, which no one can take away!
Dear Lord, I am weak. Please give me supernatural strength to endure my circumstances, and fill my heart with joy in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
If you or a loved one need to find your will to fight for joy again due to separation or divorce, Tracie’s upcoming new book, Living Unbroken: A Divorce Recovery Workbook, which accompanies her latest book, Living Unbroken, releases March 1! This is the only divorce recovery program for women-only small groups (but can also be done individually) to help women kickstart their journeys to reclaiming life and happiness. CLICK HERE to pre-order your copy today and find out how to claim three free gifts to get a sneak peek about this unique recovery program!
Follow Tracie on Instagram and Facebook for two chances to enter to win ALL of the Living Unbroken Divorce Recovery resources FOR FREE, including a small group Leaders Guide, Session 1 video teaching and Session 1 Workbook Content to preview! Also, request to join her popular “Surviving Divorce” Facebook group!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 15:11, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (NLT)
John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (NLT)
What’s something your heart is broken over right now? What’s one way you can trust God to turn your sorrow to joy? Let us know in the comments!
© 2022 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.