Isn't it amazing? You start a day trusting God and rejoicing in His grace; everything is going your way and you feel good. By the end of the day (or perhaps by the end of the morning?), you feel quite the opposite: worries and discouragements flood your heart. I'm sure we can all relate to this scenario, but what is it that causes the "joy" to go out the door so quickly for you and me? Our problem is this: We are allowing our circumstances to dictate whether or not we'll be joyful. If only [blank], then I'd be happy!
Our circumstances, or, rather, the act of resting our hope in them, can become the enemy of our joy because they are unreliable and unsteady. When we base our happiness on the hope that things will turn out our way, it’s no wonder we lack joy! If we count on getting our way as a source of happiness, "joy" will take a nosedive whenever our circumstances do (and nosedive they will). In fact, when we idolize our desires and actually do get what we want, what we're experiencing is not true joy at all; it's only a temporary feeling.
I'm so glad that we have an infinitely better source of joy than our ever-changing circumstances; we have a firm, unshakable Fountain of Delights in the unchanging God. He is the only dependable source of genuine and lasting joy. Though our circumstances change rapidly, the Almighty God remains unchanged. He remains good, faithful, merciful, loving, and sovereign. Whatever befalls us, we have a consistent source of joy in the Lord.
But what about when we don't get what we desire, when things don't go our way? Though trials are very real and painful, it is possible to be joyful in the midst of them. We find lots of evidence in Scripture that it is possible to rejoice when circumstances are less than desirable. The prophet Habakkuk knew that he could rejoice in the Lord in the midst of some serious affliction:
Though everything in our temporarily happy worlds may be crumbling and changing, we can "rejoice in the LORD." We can rejoice in the very midst of suffering because he remains the same unchanging God, but in order to do that, we must transfer our gaze from our circumstances to our God.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18
If you are a Christian, you have a source of unending joy in the Lord at your disposal, a source that continues for eternity. That's a lot longer than the first three hours of your morning!