What to Do When You've Lost Your Joy
Ironic, isn’t it, that sin promises deep and lasting satisfaction, only to deliver intense and abiding guilt.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” — Psalm 51:12a
A few weeks ago, I lost my wallet.
As I searched, concern blossomed into panic. All I could think about was getting my wallet back. Retracing my steps from the previous days and making calls to COSTCO, the grocery, and a convenience store, I came up empty. The next step would be to call the police and report my wallet missing.
My phone was in the side pocket of my canvas shoulder bag. As I reached to grab it, I noticed a jingle. Peering into the sleeve, I saw not only my keys but also my wallet.
“Thank you, Jesus!”
What was lost now was found. The headache eased and stress dissipated. My wallet was back.
In Psalm 51, David realizes something even more personal than a wallet is missing.
He had lost his joy. Ironic, isn’t it, that sin promises deep and lasting satisfaction, only to deliver intense and abiding guilt—the kind of guilt the flesh fights to deny or justify with excuse and rationalization.
The king’s sexual lust, gratifying the desires of the literal flesh, led to adultery and murder. Then he covered the sinful deeds up. Since they were not covered with blood, they remained. Hidden. Festering.
Unconfessed sin poisoned David’s soul and withered his joy. But it was not just the absence of joy. He felt crushed, and attributes the pain to the Lord.
The phrase “bones you have crushed” is a metaphor for how it felt to live under the weight of guilt. In biblical imagery, just like the heart represents the center of human affections, bones represent the entirety of one’s emotional life.
The Lord allowed David to descend into his condition not to punish him but to restore him. The same was true for me and is true for you. Through the pain of conviction, God intends to birth a new joy—a better, more robust, life- consuming joy than you have ever known before.
There are some lessons the stubborn will only learn when we can’t bear the pain any longer.
Some call it rock bottom. It may be an affair, pornography, an empty bottle, a gambling debt, or credit card debt. It could be a thousand candy bar wrappers on the floor by the couch. At some point, because the Father loves us, he will allow us to get sick of it and come home.
It may feel like your bones are being crushed. What do you do then? My suggestion is to join David. Start at verse 1 and make your way, slowly but surely here to verse 8.
Crushed bones can rejoice because Jesus was crushed in my place.
That is the testimony of Isaiah in the Old Testament and apostles like Peter in the New, who writes in 1 Peter 2:24-25,
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
That tree was a cross, where the cross of mortar met the pestle of the law and ground your sin to dust.
Yes, we were the straying sheep in the far country.
But we are invited to return, because the debt has been paid in full. Our sins are atoned for with blood. Our wounds are cleansed and healed.
Remember, the source of joy is the Holy Spirit, who fills us as we abide in the Vine of Christ as the source of our eternal life. As the lover of my soul, Jesus is my righteousness before heaven and this world. If I will believe that—looking to Jesus, abiding in him, trusting in his shed blood, and resting in his finished redemptive work for me—my joy will be restored as the Spirit floods my soul.
From crushed bones to a new song? Is it really possible? By grace, it is. Let’s be convinced together today as we pause, look, believe, and abide.
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