How Come I’m Not As Happy As When I First Got Saved?
We have a wonderful, loving God who wants us to be full of joy in His salvation. Many of us experienced previously unknown joy welling up in our hearts when we were first touched by the love of the Lord Jesus, repented, and confessed His name. God wants us to continue to experience joy in our salvation throughout our Christian lives. As believers it’s normal for us to “exult with joy that is unspeakable and full of glory,” as it says in 1 Peter 1:8.
However, although we can never lose our eternal salvation, we may at times lose the joy of our salvation. In this post, we’ll look at the reasons we lose our joy of salvation, how we can recover our joy, and how we can have a joyful daily life.
Why we lose our Joy: two reasons
The First Reason
Sin is the first and foremost matter that interrupts our fellowship with God and, as a result, spoils our happiness. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have become a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
Consider your experience as a child when you disobeyed your parents. Your disobedience didn’t make them stop loving you or make them think you weren’t their child anymore. But it did make them unhappy, and it created a problem between you and them. Because you knew they weren’t happy with you, you couldn’t really be happy either.
The same holds true in our relationship with the Lord. We’ve all experienced failing the Lord or disobeying Him in something. Afterwards we feel as if the Lord’s face is hidden from us and that He doesn’t hear us. This is because our God is righteous and cannot tolerate sin, so even a small transgression becomes a separation or barrier between God and us. Big or small, sins make us lose the happiness of our salvation.
The Second Reason
Making the Spirit who indwells us unhappy is the second reason we lose our joy. This is what Ephesians 4:30 speaks of as “grieving the Holy Spirit of God.” The Holy Spirit of God is no longer outside of us. Romans 8:9 tells us clearly “the Spirit of God dwells in you.” When we received the Lord Jesus as our Savior, He not only redeemed us, but He also began to dwell in us as the Spirit. Now another Person lives in us—a wonderful, living Person with His own thoughts, feelings, and preferences. Whenever we go along with Him, He’s happy. Whenever we don’t, we grieve Him.
Let’s say, for example, you want to go to a certain place. But when you think about going, you feel restless and uneasy. You know the Lord who lives in you doesn’t want to go there. You might try to reason with yourself that it’s okay to go. Yet you still feel uneasy. The Lord Jesus who lives in you just doesn’t want to go there. But instead of agreeing with the Lord, you go anyway. As a result, you grieve Him, and you lose your joy because it’s impossible for us to be happy when He is grieved.
How can we recover our joy and maintain it?
We should be clear about one thing: we don’t have to be joyless Christians! God wants us to have joy in Him. However, this joy can be easily disturbed. Just as a delicate flower needs the proper soil, water, and sunlight for its maintenance, our joy is preserved by the right conditions.
Below are four things we can do to provide the right conditions for maintaining our joy. The first of the four resolves the two reasons we lose our joy: sin and grieving the Spirit. The next three are additional healthy, positive things we can practice in our daily life with the Lord.
1. We can confess our sins. We need to confess our sins, our wrongdoings, and our failures whenever they occur. This includes our grieving the Spirit in us. Whether our sins are small offenses or serious sins, we must confess them. The good news is that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Because of the blood of Christ, God must forgive us. When we confess our sins to the Lord, the problem between God and us is dealt with, our fellowship with Him is restored, and we can again enjoy the gladness of salvation.
Learning to confess without delay is a good habit to build up in our Christian walk. The sooner we confess our sins and failures to the Lord, the sooner we can enjoy sweet fellowship with Him again.
2. We can read God’s Word and even pray with it. This is to take God’s Word in as food, as the prophet Jeremiah did when he declared, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). We know how grumpy and irritable we can be when we’re physically hungry and undernourished. Similarly, it’s impossible to overflow with joy if we’re not spiritually fed. The more we feed on God’s Word, the more His Word becomes the joy and rejoicing of our heart. This keeps us joyful, just as taking in physical food keeps us healthy.
Developing a daily habit of taking in God’s Word as our spiritual nourishment will help us maintain the joy of our salvation. Just as eating physical food is an enjoyment to us, so eating the Word of God brings us the true enjoyment and inner satisfaction.
3. We can open our hearts and pray to God. We don’t have to kneel down and solemnly recite a prayer in order to have fellowship with God. We can simply open our hearts and speak to the Lord Jesus in a personal way. Any time of day or night, we can talk to Him. The Lord Jesus told us to “ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24). Speaking to Him in prayer about everything brings us joy.
As we learn to daily open to the Lord in prayer, not only at set times but even throughout the day, we can maintain our fellowship with Him, and consequently our joy.
4. We can fellowship with other Christians. Besides feeding on the Word of God and praying on our own, we can fellowship with other Christians. One of the joys of Christian life is for us to come together with others who love Christ. Gathering with other believers to read the Bible, speak about the Lord, and praise Him is a highlight of our Christian experience.
The apostle John wrote about the believers’ fellowship and then said, “And these things we write that our joy may be made full” (1 John 1:3-4). These verses show us that genuine Christian fellowship is not a duty or a ritual but a matter of joy, even full joy.
By confessing our sins, feeding on God’s Word, speaking to the Lord in prayer, and fellowshipping with other Christians, it’s possible and even normal for our hearts to continually overflow with joy. May your joy be made full!
What have you experienced regarding losing and regaining the joy of your salvation?
This post is based on Chapter 2 of Basic Elements of the Christian Life, vol. 1. Bibles for America gives this book away for free; order your free copy on our order page. You can also download a PDF version here. All verse references and quoted footnotes are from the New Testament Recovery Version. You can order a free New Testament on our order page.