The other night I was sitting at my keyboard in our basement apartment; red and green lights on the control panel blinked and a warm pad droned on while I sat and listened to the silence. Darkness was growing outside where the frogs trilled, and a couple lamps lit up the windowpanes and made shadows of me on the wall.

The past couple of days I have noticed a lot of sorrow and hopelessness expressed in our world, and it bothers me. I hate fear and what it does to people—how it locks up the wonder and imagination inside. I don’t like how fear and depression has such a strong hold on our lives and cause us to confess, “I know God says this and that about himself, but it doesn’t feel true. I don’t feel him here.”

That night after watching Netflix, I was at the keyboard singing, and the show I had been watching, through the characters’ pain and hurt, brought me back to a specific memory from the past, a time when I felt similar hopelessness: I remember sitting in the worn brown chair in my dorm room one sunny afternoon; and at that moment I felt completely alone. A loneliness that swings a club at your head, leaving a surging fire behind your eyes and a broken dam of tears, the realness of a panic attack—like I was falling from the sky but never finding the earth, like God had taken my heart in his hands, twisting and twisting.

I started singing about that painful memory, and the details kept getting clearer and my heart started to hurt. And then I realized, “No! I don’t need to relive or write songs about my past sorrows and pain. That is not who I am anymore. God doesn’t want me to sing about my brokenness as if He didn’t heal me when He has.”

I changed the song. I had started in the minor key (sad songs pair well with sad sounds), but switched to a major key. I began to sing the positive: the hope of my present blessings. Words spilled out: “Let Joy be in this place, and may my thankfulness abound.” When the words and sounds of our songs change, our attitudes and responses will also begin to change.

We have to change our songs.

There is so much of this sorrowful sound in our voices day to day, and a lot of it comes from triggers: what we listen to, what we watch, and who our friends are. And when we get hurt, we dive into these songs and movies and voices that are full of more negativity because at least then we aren’t alone in our brokenness, and then we start to surrender and believe things are hopeless, that “I just gotta deal with it,” and depression is real.

Hurt is definitely real.

But the Holy Spirit is more real.

In that silence and the last of the sunlight, I heard the Spirit say to me that I have been living as if the fullness of Joy can only be experienced when Jesus returns. And then I heard Him say, “I am not lesser. I am not lesser than Jesus.”

Because in response to these thoughts on the gravity of hopelessness I was asking God, “How is it possible for you to give yourself fully to each person? How do our cries and our all-over-the-place-lives not hurt your ears or overwhelm you?”

The Spirit pointed to himself, and explained that He is for the individual. He is whole, and He wholly belongs to each person. Joy in the present.

I do not receive a percentage of God’s attention. Jesus does not come to me saying, “I’m listening, but only with one ear.” No. It’s all of Jesus, all of God saying, “I am here.”

 “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory.”—Ephesians 3:20-21

He does not just do more than we can ask or imagine, but he does it far more abundantly. He brings more life that we can imagine or desire, more truth and more joy that we can long for. This is the Holy Spirit, “The power at work within us.” The hope and joy we are searching for is already here.

Forgive me for not taking advantage of you.

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourself and others in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to our Father; and lifting one another up as the Savior lifts us up.” Ephesians 5:18-21

You want Joy? You want Peace? The fruit of the Spirit grows through our praise!

Thanksgiving shakes off the broken culture that has been integrated into our daily living. It causes such a disruption that our trembling in fear will turn to trembling in joy. It is Eucharisteo—the praise Jesus gave over the last supper before His own suffering and death, praise that shook the cursed earth and tore the temple curtain, praise that made death surrender to re-birthed Life.

“Light is sown like seed for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart.” Psalm 97:11

Whatever we look at and say, that is what our mind thinks on. Thankfulness produces and multiplies joy because it recognizes that the present moment is full of good gifts.

In the lamp-lit walls of my apartment, I closed my eyes and received His presence, my attention on the Giver and Joy-Full and all the moments He has been faithful. Deep inside my body, I began to feel music and colors and laughter. Light began to grow.

And with this fresh wonder I whispered, “Oh, so that’s who You are. Hello Holy Spirit.”

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