How to Find Joy, No Matter What Life Throws at You

Jillian Zavacky • 5 minutes

Have you ever felt unsure whether God was really hearing your prayers? Has life ever taken a turn that made you question His faithfulness? Has it ever felt like your prayers were just too much for God to handle? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I want to assure you that you’re not alone—I’ve been right there with you! Sometimes things happen that make us doubt God and threaten to rob us of our joy. But I’ve learned how to find joy no matter what life throws at me!

It was a Saturday night when my dad called to tell me that he may have leukemia. There were no words in that moment—just shock. Was this a joke? Clearly I had missed something. Years of regret flooded my mind. I wish I had called home more. I wish I hadn’t been so impatient the last time I visited. There were so many missed moments and opportunities to share the love of Christ that I didn’t take. The shame began to settle in. The joy of having a relationship with my dad—completely robbed.

Only questions remained. Questions like, God, I know You hear me, but where are You? I can’t see You in this. Are You still working in my family? Can You fix this, Father? Because it just seems impossible. What am I supposed to do? What’s next for us?

The moments when our hearts are open to hearing from God are the moments we’ll find joy, no matter the circumstances.

While having questions can feel like lacking faith in God, I believe the opposite is often true. God wants us to ask questions. Why? Because questions draw us into conversations. And those conversations invite us into His presence. The moments when our hearts are open to hearing from Him are the moments He will restore our faith. They’re the moments when we’ll find joy, no matter the circumstances. 

In John 16:24 NIV, Jesus says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Our joy is complete in His presence!

What we know to be true about God and what we feel about Him are often disjointed, right? They don’t always connect, especially in moments that take us by surprise, like this news from my dad. At that moment, my questions were overwhelming and paralyzing. But questions can also be the best remedy to restoring the joy in our hearts. It’s when we’re at the feet of Jesus that our Father comforts us, reminding us that what we have always known to be true about Him is still true, no matter what we’re facing!

Here’s what we know to be true about God.

God’s heart isn’t for us to struggle or strive. In John 15:11, Jesus tells us that His desire is for our hearts to be full of joy. God even knows exactly what will bring our hearts the most joy. It often won’t be the things that we want or think we need (Psalm 4:7). Sometimes joy simply comes from trusting Him (see Romans 15:13) as we walk through the things life throws at us.

No matter what you’re facing in life, you can find joy as you journey with God (James 1:2-4). It will come as you lean on Him, scouring His heart for what’s next. Joy will grow as you delight in Him in every circumstance, whether in the weariness of waiting or in the longing that comes with loss

The thing about joy is that it’s there for the taking no matter what. Like with my dad. Facing the reality that my family’s lives may very soon change was scary. And just when I thought I had exhausted all of the questions in my heart, so many more sprang up when we learned the diagnosis was, in fact, true. My dad does have leukemia. My biggest fear became reality. Cue the hot mess express!

Except that God met me there, in my mess, and He waved His flag of joy over me. When I pressed in further with my worries, dreams, and fears, God’s truth flooded into my heart:

I know you feel lost, but I’m here to guide you. Don’t worry about what lies ahead; I’ll be with you. I am for you. We’re in this together. I won’t let you slip, just follow Me. I hear you, and I’m working. Trust me, beloved.

I knew life with my dad would be different now, but I had peace knowing that it’s all in God’s hands. His joy was there for the taking; I just had to grab hold of it!

So much joy awaits us as we journey along God’s path for our lives, no matter where it leads. Don’t lose heart! You can find joy, no matter what life throws at you. All it takes is a little time spent at His feet, offering up your questions to Him in exchange for truths about who He is. Remember this:  

… We may weep through the night, but at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy.  Psalm 30:5 TPT