To be honest, I read this verse and my gut reaction is, "yeah right," or "prove it." This comes from fear and mistrust in my heart that was given birth by pain in my past. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" - Proverbs 13:12. My heart is sick, as many things I have hoped for have not come to be. And yet, as I walk with the Lord in my brokenness, He shows me why my heart is sick. I have put my hope in circumstances, in myself, and in others. My only true, unshakable hope is in Him. My hope is in His character: faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, mercy, love, justice....In Him my hope is secure and my heart is healed.
Even though I have moments of clarity, my default is to hope in what I can see, what I can feel, what I can do. I have sought to heal my own hurts. If I keep a gratitude journal, I can generate my own joy. If I see a counselor, I can generate my own healing. If I read the Bible enough, I can understand God completely. These are all good and valuable things, but when I use them in an attempt to control my circumstances and protect my heart, my hope is deferred and my heart gets sick. God has allowed me to reach the end of hoping in myself. It is exhausting trying to do the work of the Almighty.
He calls us to rest in Him. "Cease striving and know that He is God." Psalm 46:10 The joy that is a gift from Him is not one we have to find or create. God wants to give us a joy that bubbles out of nowhere. Joy that is present for no other reason than that He has given it. That takes all of the pressure off. That makes joy His responsibility, not ours. He can handle it, we can rest and enjoy.