Knowing Joy and Not Feeling It

written by: Ally Powell


What has you stressed out and worried? Is it school? Dating? Health? Career? Or maybe even character? You’re not a strong enough, good enough, or kind enough person that you thought you would be in your twenties, thirties, forties, etc? I have actually been stressed out about all these things in the past, and because of it, I began to struggle with something I never thought I would struggle with—anxiety. I was overwhelmed about school because I wanted to be the perfect student. I was stressed about dating because I wanted to have a perfect relationship. I was worried about my health because I didn’t have good eating habits, and I didn’t work out. I was doubting whether God really wanted me to be a teacher or not because I’m impatient and emotional, and I know I won’t make a good educator! On top of it all, I was completely aware that I am a sinner who isn’t always kind, or loving, or humble. I was quick to anger and slow to listen. I was completely imperfect in every way, and I had no idea what I was doing. It was actually very frightening.

My anxiety got so bad that I would go days without sleeping because my mind wouldn’t be silent, and my heart wouldn’t be still. After a while, worshipping God didn’t feel as good as it used to. I didn’t really want to sing a song about how God was good. Worship had always been my favorite part of any Christian gathering, and I suddenly didn’t feel right doing it. This anxiety was kicking my behind! I was a total mess. Then, one day, I was crying in my car in the Walmart parking lot, when the song “Even If” came on by MercyMe. Bart Millard sings:

I know the sorrow and I know the hurt
Would all go away if you just say the word
But even if you don’t
My hope is you alone.”

In that moment, after hearing those words, I knew that everything was going to be okay. I knew that my life was in His hands. No, the sleepless nights didn’t go away at first. No, the constant pain in my chest didn’t go away at first. But from then on, I knew who was in control. After deciding to be open with Jesus and after sharing my anxieties with Him and placing those worries into his hands, I slowly but surely began to understand what true joy is—about 8 months later.

Joy isn’t the high that you feel when you’re worshipping in Chapel. Joy isn’t having everything together in this world and knowing exactly where you’re going in this life. True joy is KNOWING where you’re going when this life is over. It’s being able to sing those worship songs that say, “You are good,” even when you DON’T FEEL it. Joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a knowing—knowing that Jesus lived a perfect life, died the death that we deserved, and resurrected to give us a new life. That’s where joy comes from. For everyone who is struggling because they understand how imperfect they are, Jesus’ blood washes away all of your imperfections—this is what is giving me joy this semester. No, I’m not perfect, and no, I don’t have everything together, but I know that God has a plan for me. No matter what you’re feeling, I want to challenge you to trust in Him because no matter what obstacle is in front of you, Jesus is already there.

Scripture to read:
Deuteronomy 1:29-3
Philippians 4:12-13
Proverbs 3:5-6
1 Peter 5:7
Matthew 6:33