Substitutes for God’s Joy

I wish I could say life has been easy and joyful lately.

On a surface level, things are going well. I’m engaged to a wonderful man. I love my job. I’m a year away from finishing my undergraduate degree. I’m involved with some great ministries through my church and the BCM.

Those things do bring me great joy. But unfortunately depression and anxiety are indiscriminate in their attacks.

The end of the school year always brings stress, with finals, papers, and projects seemingly all due at once. My fiancé has been working away, which has opened the door for Satan to wreak havoc on our relationship and inject fear into the joy about our impending nuptials. Anxiety creeps back in to steal my breath, and gives way to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.

Recently, on a particularly bad night, I was visited by an urge I hadn’t felt in awhile: I wanted to cause myself physical pain. The desire is both nonsensical and overwhelming; I strongly felt that doing that would relieve the emotional pain, but I couldn’t explain why. Maybe it’s about control, or maybe it’s about distraction. I’m not sure.

I’m not proud of giving in. I didn’t draw blood or leave visible marks, but I gave in. Part of me felt ashamed; how would I have justified this to those who look up to me? Shouldn’t I have run to God in my pain? Another part of me felt the promised relief. So why not do it again? I fell asleep confused and depressed, wondering how my walk with God could ever be the same.

The Bible says His mercies are new every morning, and I felt the truth in that as I woke up. After finally getting myself out of bed, I did what I should have done in the first place: run to God’s Word. With coffee in hand, I opened to the 17th Psalm. David’s plea for protection from those who seek to kill him aren’t very relatable for a 21st century American, but God placed verse 6 in my path the very morning I needed it:

“I call on you, God, because You will answer me…” Psalm 17:6(a)

So many times, including the night before, I had not called on God in distress. I had substituted something else for the joy and comfort found in His presence. And why? Because I did not trust that He would answer me. How dare I.

Friends and exes have let me down so many times that I struggle daily with trust in my human relationships. But pridefully I never thought I would fail to trust my Savior and Creator, who has never let me down.

I was no longer confused. No matter what urges I felt, I would not give in. I would not put my trust in anything but Jesus to save me from my distress. Lies of Satan convince me that I am worthless, hopeless, and beyond repair. But God’s truth reminds me that He redeems my sin and my suffering for His glory, and the joy of His presence is available to me always as His child.

“You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” Psalm 16:11

2 responses to “Substitutes for God’s Joy”

  1. […] pretty open in this blog about my mental health. That’s unnatural for me. Left to my own devices I would huddle in a corner with my depression […]


  2. […] pretty open in this blog about my mental health. That’s unnatural for me. Left to my own devices I would huddle in a corner with my depression […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Website.

%d bloggers like this: