Joy Despite Hardship
As Jake preached this past Sunday’s message titled, Joy Despite Hardship, I came away feeling like I don’t usually feel much joy in the hardships I’ve faced even though I am a follower of Christ. I want to have more joy in future hardships than I have in the past. Don’t you?
When we most need joy, is when we usually don’t feel we have enough of it. When hard times come, when a loved one dies, when all of a sudden you’re unemployed, our happiness is suffocated.
One thing that must be true of us as Christ followers is that even in a good season of life, no material possession, or circumstance should surpass the joy we have in God. Without joy in God in good times, there is no reason to think we will still have joy when we suddenly find ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death. So ask yourself: does your primary joy when life is going well still come from your faith in Christ?
That’s where the disconnect for me is. Often my joy in circumstances is greater than my joy in Christ. When things are great in marriage, then I’m finding more joy there. When I like what I see in my bank account, then I feel more joy and security in that than in Christ.
I fall short of Paul’s command to the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always” but I must continue to fight for my joy from God. Its hard but rewarding work. Fundamentally, it is heart work like Jake said. We need to know how to do spiritual heart surgery on our ourselves.
Jake said what it takes to have joy despite our circumstances is ongoing mental activity that has us constantly thinking about the good news of great joy that has been announced to us. The news that a Savior has been born to us!
This isn’t a new method, in fact, Lamentations 3:21-23 puts it this way, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The author directly attaches calling to mind who God is with his hope.
Have you ever intentionally called to mind what God has done for you through Christ? It’s not likely to happen by coincidence. We need to have the living and active Word of God in our minds so that it can spark joy even when we’re downcast. How might you go about being able to call to mind some of the promises of God before this year comes to an end? Maybe it looks like writing down some of the truths in scripture Jake read over us at the end of the message. Consider placing them above the kitchen sink, and on the bathroom mirror and memorizing them. Whatever it is, find ways to make the joyful news on the forefront of your mind throughout your day to day.
I’m praying that our faith will prove to be a Romans 15:13 kind of faith where our joy is the result of our active willing to call joy carrying truths to mind and in turn be able to say “therefore I have joy”.
In case you want to go back and call to mind some of the verses Jake read over us I’m going to list a few for your reference. Take some time to look them up and be encouraged by these truths.
Titus 3:3-5, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 1 Peter 2:9-10, 1 John 1:9, Ephesians 1:7-8
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