"Jehovah, restore the joy of Your salvation to me!" David prayed as tears fell down his face.
He couldn't eat. He could barely sleep. The awareness of what he had done was overpowering and his actions were playing like a movie reel in his mind. David, a man with a heart after God, had wandered from the Lord, had indulged in sin and lost the joy he once had.
It had started small as it always does: A thought which leads to a desire. A desire which leads to an action. And an action that produces a habit.
David, the giant slayer had taken a married woman to his bed and, when she became pregnant, had her husband murdered to hide what he had done. Scripture doesn't say how long it was before the magnitude of David's sin became real to him. It does say that it took a confrontation with the prophet Nathan for David's sin to hit home. Then Psalm 51 begins and we find David crying out to God, acknowledging his sin, expressing his shame and asking for The Lord to give him his joy back.
Can you relate?
Joy isn't like happiness which bases itself on circumstances or events. Joy is from God and it goes deeper than surface level happiness and lasts longer than the temporary events we enjoy. As one of the nine fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5, Scripture says every believer has access to joy. On our own, we cannot muster up enough positive feelings to have joy, nor can we do enough, give enough or say enough to be an all-around joyful person. Joy is what enables you to smile and worship when everything else has been destroyed. It is literally a gift from God to His people and when we have lost it, the only way to get it back is to run to the Giver of it with open hands. That is what David did. David wandered from the Lord, had given in to sin, had lied, cheated, stolen, murdered and then later lost his newborn son - and yet because of the merciful goodness of God, he was able to worship through his tears and praise God all the more for His kindness. That is an example we should follow.
Sometimes we lose our joy because we have been sinned against. The Bible does not tell us much about Bathsheba but I can imagine she wasn't joyful when she lost her husband to homicide and her child to the grave. Later she would watch mass chaos ensue within her own home among the children of David. No joy was in this woman's pain. When we have been hurt by another person, we find ourselves unable to laugh and sing like we used to. It's still a result of sin, but not necessarily our sin.
But of course, most of the time, joy is lost because of our own indulgence in what is unholy. While intoxicating and fun for a season, sin will inevitably turn on us and rob us of our joy. David experienced this when he prayed for his joy to be restored. He had lost it because of his own self-absorption and lack of obedience. He felt unclean; aware of his guilt and overwhelmed by shame. He understood he was weak and helpless and at the mercy of the God he had betrayed. David was a miserable person and he longed to rejoice again like he once had.
You may have been sinned against and your joy was stolen from you. Or you may have strayed and committed a sin that suffocated your joy. Regardless of the why and the how, the Source of joy is Jesus Himself. The way to obtain joy is to submit your life to Jesus Christ. The way to get your joy back is to recall the truth of God's written Word and rest in the promises of hope that it brings. He is good and in His presence, there is boundless joy forevermore.
For more on this topic, study:
Nehemiah 8:10; Nehemiah 12:43; Psalm 5:11; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 21:6; Psalm 30:5;
Psalm 33:1; Psalm 45:7; Psalm 59:16; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 84:2; Psalm 90:14;
Psalm 105:43; Zechariah 2:10; Luke 15:10; John 15:11; John 16:22; Acts 13:52;
Romans 15:13; Jude 1:24-25;