“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3
JOY is one of the more elusive Fruit of the Spirit. Many people believe that it is a feeling when, in all actuality, joy is a state-of-being that begins on the inside before it can be expressed on the outside. To be filled with and exude joy takes faith in both the miraculous and the mundane—having joy with getting married or being single; joy having children or choosing not to have children; joy in being successful at work or leaving that job to start your own business. But the joy that many of us miss is the joy that inhabits us when we think about the goodness of God and all that He does for us, like providing food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and shelter to cover our heads. Joy when the opportunity we prayed for finally comes our way, forgiving and being forgiven, deliverance from the bondage of fear, and the joy that comes when we accept God’s peace.
Having joy becomes a challenge during seasons of longsuffering, those times when grief suffocates us and we find ourselves in the grips of deep depression. Having and expressing it becomes almost impossible when we’ve suffered tremendous atrocities that seem to keep coming in so many waves that we can barely make it through the day. It is during these times, when our faith in God is pushed to the limit, that we must remember the words the Apostle Paul shares in II Corinthians 6:4-10:
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleeplessness nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
In other words, regardless of what we’re going through, how we may feel, that we may be experiencing hardship, be persecuted, deal with doubt, suffer through losing a loved one, or feel we are alone, we must find and exude joy in the knowledge that God never leaves or forsakes us. We must find that joy that reminds us that God is our Provider during seasons of lack, our Protector during times of trial, our Comforter when we grieve. He is our quiet place when the world gets too loud, an ear when we need someone listen. He is an all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipotent God.
We must turn our situations inside-out to find the joy in all things. Joy in the fact that the past is over, that we have the power to forgive those who wronged us. Joy in the knowledge that our loved one who passed no longer has to suffer through the pain of their illnesses. Joy in knowing that God handles our enemies, our problems, restores our faith, gives us hope, and helps us to see his hand in all things. Joy in the fact that He never sleeps, never slumbers, that He watches over all of us. Joy in knowing that God meets us in the very place of our need, sees the greatness within us and orchestrates our journey in such a personal way in order to pull that greatness out of us. Joy in the fact that God IS.
If you are in the middle of a dry place, desperate for light in the middle of darkness, turn your sorrow and your fear inside-out to find God in your situation. He is there waiting for you to see Him, ready for you to embrace His peace, and resurrect your joy.
Join me on Wednesday, July 13th for Peace, my next installment in the "Living the Fruit of the Spirit" Selah blog series.