Summer Blog Post 2: Real JOY

Posted On June 21, 2009

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Many times we equate “happiness” and “joy” but that is not the Biblical prescription.

Real JOY is not defined by circumstances
In Philippians 4:11–13, Paul writes, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” One aspect of the prescription is that real joy is not determined by the circumstances that you are in. This is why families undergoing great loss can still have joy. There is a catch in this though. Never let your joy depend upon something that you may lose. From Paul’s words we see that his joy was not in “things” or circumstances, which can be lost or change at a moment’s notice, rather it was placed in Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

This summer may or may not be a “happy” one for you, but do not let circumstance rob you of JOY. I don’t know the events that will unfold this upcoming school year for you, but don’t place your JOY in the outcome of those events. Place your JOY completely in Christ and He will not disappoint.

Real JOY is possible in the midst of struggle
James, speaking to an audience of persecuted Christians who have been displaced out of their homes says, “Dear brother and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.”(James 1:2) James in essence is saying that joy is possible in the middle of great trials. Now how can we do that? Let’s look at Christ’s example of Joy in the midst of suffering.

The Hebrews writer recounts a slightly different perspective of the suffering that Christ went through. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.” (Hebrews 12:2) When Christ was in the garden, he wasn’t saying, “Yeah, look what I get to go do. I am so happy that I get to be beaten and crucified.” The reason that Christ was able to have joy during this time was because he saw beyond the trying time. He knew that bigger and better things were on the other side of the trial in his life, namely the salvation of the world. That’s why he had joy. We too can look beyond the struggle and pain we might be in and have hope beyond the moment. Let’s look at a few examples from Scripture of joy in the midst of struggle.

After Christ’s death, Jesus’ body was hastily put in the tomb before Sabbath. The women were going to the grave to finish the embalming process, when they discovered the stone rolled away and the angel pronouncing that He was risen. Look at what Matthew recorded about that moment. “The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message.” (Matthew 28:8) You probably never thought those two emotions would, or even could, coexist. This is a prime example of JOY in the middle of trying times. Let’s look at another example from Paul’s life.

Paul and Silas are in Philippi, and “A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. … Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”(Acts 16: 22, 23, 25) The reason that Paul and Silas could have the JOY described here is because they could see beyond the suffering. Their JOY was not placed in whether they lived or died in that jail cell; rather it was placed in Christ.

So where is your JOY placed?

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