Consider … Joy

JOY.

A simple 3-letter word that’s easy to say, yet hard to hang onto sometimes, right?  In spite of knowing that God has the COVID virus firmly in His grasp, I find at times I’m still letting that elusive 3-letter word slip from my focus.

I had always loved being at home – and usually prefer times of silence and quiet rather than the hustle and bustle of being out with people all the time.

But now that I have to stay home?  It’s getting on my nerves.  I can’t wait to get out and hug my girlfriends and attend church in person.  I can’t wait to meet for coffee, or go out to lunch and a movie.

I can’t wait to go to the grocery store and see once again all the shopping carts that people park right in the middle of the aisle so that no one can get around them.  (Did I really just say that?)  I also can’t wait to go hang out at a park and not have to worry that someone’s getting too close to me.

I’m beginning to “almost” miss the – {SIGH} – CHAOS!!!

There have definitely been moments where I’ve found myself really thankful my parents didn’t name me “Joy.”  Because right now living up to that name would be difficult – way too much pressure!!!

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god is workingBOOM…

Of course as I finished another whine-fest, I ended up going through one of my old journals filled with sermon notes.  And, I “just so happened” to come across some key points I had written down about how to keep joyful – even when events in your life aren’t exactly ideal.

The main person the notes focused on was the Apostle Paul.

This is the Paul who used to kill Christians, until the day he had a drop-to-the-ground confrontation with Jesus Himself (Acts 9:1-9), which totally turned his life around.  And, the same Paul of whom Jesus told Ananias was going to have to suffer tremendously because he had destroyed so many people (Acts 9:15-16).

And, Paul did indeed suffer – a lot.  In his letter to the Corinthian church he lists many of the things he had gone through.  How he had been flogged, beaten, stoned and shipwrecked 3 times, among many other things (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

Yet in his letter to the Corinthians he doesn’t whine, but instead boasts about Jesus, who is “worthy of all praise” (2 Corinthians 11:31).

As a matter of fact, when Paul wrote the book of Philippians, he was in a Roman jail, waiting to be executed.  Many fellow “Christians” had turned their backs on him because they felt it was shameful to be in prison.  But the Philippian church had remained faithful, believing in him because they saw how he lived his life.  He lived pointing people to Jesus.

And by the way, do you know what the key word is in book of Philippians?  JOY!

Looking just at Philippians 3 alone, Paul gives us a lot of pointers as to why we should be remaining joyful, as well.

The key?  Focus on Jesus, who keeps us safe as we remain faithful to Him (v. 1).

Remember all He’s done in our lives (v. 3).

That He is our great reward (v. 7-8); and has a wonderful prize waiting for us at the end of our lives (v. 14).

And finally, once we die we’ll live in heaven with Him forever.  Our bodies will be transformed, and we’ll no longer have pain or suffering (v. 20-21)!

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preparing a placeAs the days continually crashed to the ground after we lost our second son within 5-months years ago, “joy” was certainly one word not in our vocabulary for quite sometime.

But God…

He is our Healer; He is our Sustainer; He is our Comforter.

And through the years since, He has proven to us time and again that having joy doesn’t mean we will be giddy with happiness.  Joy is so much more!  Joy is a fruit given by the Holy Spirit himself (Galatians 5:22-23).  It is something that our Heavenly Father continually molds and refines in us to keep us focused on things that are worthy, instead of things which are worthless.

He also taught me through those agonizing months after losing our children, that true joy can come only when my heart is totally surrendered to His sovereignty.  I need to be totally trusting of how He loves me and knows what’s best for me every single moment of every single day.  That’s why staying close to Him is so important.  It makes our joy complete (John 15:11).

He still reminds me today (often as a matter of fact), that no matter how bad things may seem, when I get to my Heavenly Home never again will I have times of sadness (John 16:22).  Because when I get there not only will I see my Father face-to-face, but I will also be reunited with my kids who have gone on before me; as well as so many other precious friends and family members.

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But in the here and now, how can we keep our joy growing instead of stagnating?

First off, make sure there’s no unconfessed sin in your life.  Be still and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and bring to the surface things which are not pleasing to Him.  And then ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Is there perhaps something that God has wanted you to do that you haven’t done yet?  Maybe a person you have treated unfairly that you need to apologize to?  Go to them.  Do whatever it is that you’ve been neglecting to do.

Since none of us are perfect, we always need to be ready and willing to face our faults head-on (James 5:16).  Sometimes we find ourselves struggling with the same things over and over again.  That’s OK!  Share these things with a friend you trust, and pray for each other!  We all have things we need to deal with in our lives, whether physically, spiritually or emotionally.  The Apostle Paul thought he had everything going for him in his life, until Jesus came and popped his pride bubble (Philippians 3:4-8).  He needed to learn true spiritual maturity – just like we all do!

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all the friends who have stood by me through my Christian walk.  Because so often I don’t even realize the little things I’m doing which are hurtful to others.  I think I have it all together!  It takes trusted friends who will lovingly come alongside you and confront you when you are starting to slide in the wrong direction.

joy of the lorrdIf you look up Philippians 4:11-13, you can read firsthand of the change in Paul’s attitude since Jesus gave him his new outlook on life.  He tells us that when we keep our eyes on the Lord, He gives us contentment no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.  He says that Jesus gives him the strength he needs every day.

And that is certainly the key to remaining joyful.  Remembering the many blessings that God has given you, instead of wishing you were doing something else.

There will always be things or people in your life which will try to pull you away from the prize of eternity – the end goal.  But we must accept with joy whatever circumstances God allows in our lives, because each step is a part of our individual walk with Him – even when we don’t fully understand why things are happening as they are.

So as I sit here today finishing up this post – yes, I still long to get out and hug my girlfriends, yet at the same time I know that God is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28).  So I choose this day to get my mindset back on JOY.  Why?  Because I am my Father’s child, and He has great plans for me, just like He has for you (John 15:16).  After all, we are children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – what could be better than that?

So let’s end this post with one of my favorite passages – which of course I conveniently forgot about until today:

Consider it pure JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

[James 1:2-4 NIV – emphasis mine]


3 thoughts on “Consider … Joy

  1. Thank you so much for this.

    On Sun, Apr 26, 2020 at 8:28 AM The God Of All Comfort wrote:

    > thegodofallcomfort posted: “JOY. A simple 3-letter word that’s easy to > say, yet hard to hang onto sometimes, right? In spite of knowing that God > has the COVID virus firmly in His grasp, I find at times I’m still letting > that elusive 3-letter word slip from my focus. I had always ” >

    Like

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