ATP: How Do I Find Joy After My Spouse Has Died?

JOY – IT’S YOUR STRENGTH    

So, a part of you is gone.  You’re alone now. Your future is uncertain.  You don’t know where you fit – will your associations be the same now that your spouse is gone?  Your name is still Mrs. __________, but you’re “single.”  Are you single?  You really don’t know!  You feel alone, but you don’t feel single.  The joy of married life – even with all of its ups and downs is gone.  Is that how you’re feeling?

The Bible tells us there is a time to weep and a time to mourn. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)  There are no short cuts when grieving a loss.  We all must walk through the anger, denial, shock and emptiness of losing a spouse, but be encouraged.  The Lord came to bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all who mourn. (Isaiah 61:1-2)  He seeks to bring you through the despair.  He promises that “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)  Joy will come to all who believe on His name and put their complete trust in Him.  What is this “joy” that He promises and how do you lay hold of it?

The definition of joy is: “the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good.”  It’s easy to understand how joy fades when the bottom falls out and your life is shattered by death.  Where is the good to get excited about?  Where is the passion?  Where is the joy?  

Perhaps the key lies in the original text (Hebrew).  Joy means: “to rejoice, to make glad, to be joined.”   Someone or something is causing us to be glad; someone to whom we are joined is causing us to expect good.  For the Christian that Someone is the LORD.  He alone is good (Mark 10:18) and the wellspring of our joy. (Romans 15:13)  

As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us (Psalm 23:4).  He is the One who brings light into our darkness. (Psalm 18:28)  He turns our mourning into dancing. (Psalm 30:11)  He works all things for good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  He is a beneficent Father who loves us with an everlasting love that will not fail. (Jeremiah 31:3) Those promises, that faith in who He is, and the expectation of good things to come, all give birth to joy.  Peter says, “Even though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not see him now, you believe in him.  You are filled with a glorious joy that can’t be put into words.” (I Peter 1:8)

The Bible says, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  Amazingly, this verse was written when there was a severe famine in the land.  Many were mortgaging their homes to buy food, others were borrowing money to pay debts; still others were selling their sons and daughters to survive.  In the midst of this despair, Nehemiah boldly proclaims this truth: “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Joy does not depend on our circumstances.  Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says about Jesus, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)  What was Jesus facing - an excruciating, unwarranted, humiliating death.  Yet His eyes were on the joy that He knew was ahead.  The power of that joy gave Him strength to endure the pain He suffered for you and me. The joy of the Lord can be your strength too as you grieve.

If your eyes are on the unpredictable circumstances in life, joy will elude you.  You may be happy for a season when things are going well, but then sink into misery when they aren’t.  If, however, you fix your eyes on Him and walk in oneness with Him, you will find lasting peace, rest, refuge, strength, hope, power, and yes – joy.  How do you do that?  

1) Meditate on His Word and His wonderful works. (Psalms 119:78, 97; 145:5)  

2) Keep your mind renewed by the truth found there. (Romans 12:2)

3) Cry out to the Lord in prayer and cast your burdens on Him. (I Peter 5:7) 

4) Trust His care for you. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

5) Walk in obedience to His Word in order to stay close to Him.  (John 15:10)

6) Fellowship with other believers around His Word. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

7) Rejoice always. (Philippians 4:4)

8) Give thanks in all things. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

    These last two can be tough yet God commands them.  He understands that there will be times when we don’t feel like rejoicing or giving thanks, but as with any exercise, these things are for our good.  Rejoicing in Him and giving thanks are exercises of faith and our way of saying, “Yes Lord, I believe your promises to me.  I trust you.  I am watching for your goodness.”   

    Your Heavenly Father says, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)   Be encouraged in your grief, child.  You have a Father who offers you:  hope for every disappointment, grace for every trial, direction for every turn, an anchor for every storm, provision for every need, protection from every foe, companionship that will never be taken from you, and a love that will never fail.  Hold fast to Him.  Let Him fill you with everlasting joy to get through today and face tomorrow.

    MY PRAYER FOR YOU

    “Father, grant this dear child of yours a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know You better.  Open the eyes of their heart that they may be enlightened to know the hope to which You have called them, the riches of their inheritance in You, and the incomparably great power You give to them even in their weakness.  May the reality of Your presence see them through the days to come and cause their cup to overflow with joy.”

    In Jesus’ name,  Amen.”

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