Being joyful and miserable, possible?

When we are sick, from an illness or disease, it is difficult to stay upbeat. I want to refrain from using the word ‘positive’ because that is not a condition of the heart. Being positive is a way of thinking, not a way of feeling. I will caveat that by repeating the old adage, ‘as a man thinks, so he be’. That is Mississippi language. The point being, you are what you think you are and what you tell yourself. Others provide input but you choose whether to listen to the input or not.

But what to do when you are sick? My head is pounding as I wrote this. It is not a sinus headache where it is behind my eyes or on one side of my head. It is on top and it feels like my head is metal and someone has hit me with a small sledgehammer, probably 3.3 pounds in weight. Enough to be annoying, and if I am not careful they will swing again with a 10 pound sledge.

But can I choose to be joyful right now? I am not miserable, but I am in pain. I have been ‘short’ with my family but we have made a car that is propelled by a balloon (with several trials before getting it to work) and we attempted a balloon propelled straw rocket on a string. It worked but it is not easy to troubleshoot with a headache. I read to one child as well. But still, I am cranky.

So how do people do it? How do they find joy in situations of pain?

History seems to indicate that taking the focus off of ourselves is one of the keys. So instead of saying, ‘I did this’ or ‘I did that’, I should say, ‘my children enjoyed making a balloon powered car and rocket together’. It even sounds better writing it. The focus is off of me and onto ‘us’ and ‘them’. When people are in prison camps they do better by focusing on helping others survive and endure. They find encouragement from their ‘family’.

Misery, pain, and suffering are a part of life. It’s okay to acknowledge the misery and pain.

When seeing my son struggle through some of his sicknesses I am always a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. I think that is okay and…. I think it is normal.

(update 10 hrs later)

My headache is gone. We had a good night together and I almost finished the chicken coop for a couple of feathery, egg-laying, poultry types we will get this coming weekend. We just need to paint it and put the wire on it.

(side bar complete, back to the post content)

I don’t always chose to look for joy. At lunch we discussed what Paul wrote in Phillippians about joy and peace. Paul basically says not to worry or be anxious by yourself, to yourself, or even in a group. But rather, we are to pray and supplicate to God.

Supplicate is the key word and it basically means beg. If we are begging then I am pretty sure there is anxiousness there. But we are not in control of anything. Hopefully this virus has shown us that at a minimum. We can react but we cannot control. And that is Paul’s point. He goes on to say what we should focus on and that list is what I would call full of the possibility for joy. Read it for yourself. Phillippians 4:5-8…I think that is right and it is too late to look it up.

So can there be joy while being miserable? Possibly. But I don’t believe emotionally they can coexist. You can be in a miserable situation, physically hurting but still joyful. Is it easy? I don’t think so. But we have to try, if not for God, then for the people around us, especially those we love.


2 thoughts on “Being joyful and miserable, possible?

  1. Beth Gordon

    As a person that tends to focus on what is not going right, it is a real effort to stay ‘positive’. I fail quite frequently at doing so. Thank you for redirecting to Joy.

    Yesterday I was just reading those verses in Philippines after watching a sermon on Titus 3:1-8. When I read verse 8 about “devoting ourselves to good works that are excellent and profitable for people” it came to me that my good works start with what is in my mind and that I need to change what I think on.

    After reading your post, I think I need to the whole book Philippians again.

    PS. Love the chicken coop. We would love it if you would share a picture of the finished project.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ma K

    You are such a good Dad, Keith! You really are. Doing all of that while having a headache was tremendously difficult. And I don’t know if I can honestly say that I can have joy with physical pain.
    It probably sounds strange, but the only way I can have joy in the midst of emotional stress and pain is if I am worshiping. I learned a long time ago that if I would choose to worship the Lord, no matter what else was going on, then my focus would get off of what was going on, and onto the only One who can help. So now I don’t even do it consciously. The more stressed I am, the more I a song of worship well up and I find myself singing to the Lord. The heaviness lifts, and I know the enemy hates that. And those verses in Philippians are really saying that once we prayerfully give all of our cares and worries to the Lord, then He in turn gives us His peace. It’s an amazing exchange. Love you!

    Liked by 2 people

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