Three Steps to Bring Back Joy in the Midst of Turmoil
by Janet Perez Eckles
There she was, dressed in pure white. With slow steps she walked down the aisle and pronounced her wedding vows at the altar, her heart filled with expectations of the “happily ever after.” But her dreams were dashed by the tragic loss of her marriage and the rapid descent into complete blindness. Then, her heart was savagely broken by the murder of her son.
In this true yet dark recount, can joy ever come back?
This writer is the one who journeyed through such episodes. And with genuine gratitude, I give a resounding ‘yes.’ It’s not only possible, but because of God’s grace, victory does arrive, peace happens, and joy appears again.
If this crazy life erased your own joy, check which of these three W’s is a ‘must-do’ for you:
1. Wipe Away Self-Pity
Like most of us who long for something and nothing happens, Hannah cried inside her cold tent, she lamented and possibly lost sleep. She had asked for a child.
Not only was God silent, but to add to her grief, she observed another woman, Peninnah, who gave birth effortlessly.
The LORD had closed her [Hannah’s] womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year” (1 Samuel 1:6-7).
When we see others enjoy the very thing for which we long, our pain is magnified and self-pity clings like a leech, sucking every ounce of joy.
We’re miserable until we hear from God. Often, He speaks directly through His Word, sometimes through circumstances, and for Hannah, God used Eli to speak to her.
“Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ She said, ‘May your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Samuel 1:17-18).
No longer downcast? No, not at all because Hannah’s ‘poor me’ attitude turned to hope, her face changed to one of expectation and as she ate her first good meal, her soul was nourished with renewed faith and expectation. That’s when God smiled at her and she gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Samuel.
When self-pity ends, blessings begin. And when our perspective changes, joy comes back.
2. Welcome God’s Comfort
Comfort is a commodity that lost its value. Instead of comfort, this chaotic world brings anxiety. Instead of peace, panic comes. And instead of reassurance, uncertainty for tomorrow echoes through.
The Israelites walked through the same wilderness, grumbling about their discomfort because even when God forgave them, provided for them, guided and protected them, “they continued to sin against him” (Psalm 78:17).
And when hardship visited them, gloom blinded them. While they focused on the world’s adverse surroundings, they forgot the beauty of God’s comfort. They dismissed the reassurance He promised and the guidance He offered.
We’re no different. God’s comfort gets lost in the wilderness of our own chaotic life. And as He observes us sinking in the mud of misery, His arms of comfort are opened wide. He has His mercy ready. And when we choose to welcome and receive it, renewed confidence begins and reassurance ushers in sweet joy.
3. Walk into the Future
When I lost my sight, my son and my marriage, I secretly longed for a life the way it was. And at the beginning, that yearning became a daily but sorry companion. No matter what you long for, dwelling in the past zaps the joy of today and leaves you stuck, unable to move forward. But when God speaks in Isaiah 43:18, His words give a clear instruction. He asks a question and repeats a promise: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
He’s making the way for you too. He’s inviting you to walk into the future, to a new beginning (Jeremiah 29:11). And receiving that truth, the dawning of joy appears. It becomes the spring that flows in the desert of your pain.
No matter what devastating loss invaded your life, joy is still pulsating within you. God’s voice will bring it through as He whispers: “Trust in me, I’ll direct your path. Follow me, I’ll lead you to quiet waters. Find joy in me, and that will be your strength.”
Janet Perez Eckles has been teaching thousands to overcome fear through her work as an award-winning author, international speaker and founder of JC Empowerment Ministries. Her latest release, Now I See: How God’s Amazing Grace Transforms the Deepest Pain to Shining Joy, winner of the 2023 Memoir of the Year Golden Scroll Award. Janet resides in Florida with husband Dale, adult children and delightful grandchildren.