First of all, before you ask for my address so you know where to send the hate mail, I only wrote Kamala because it sounds similar to “cholera”. Just tell yourself it means “current times”.
Joy is a term we often hear during big celebrations in life: a wedding, the birth of a child, finding pants that make you look twenty pounds lighter. You know, the big stuff!
But God’s word says to be joyful not just in momentous occasions, but always. Like always, always.
Finding joy in the day to day can be a little more challenging, but God tells us we can and should. How? Well, joy is the second fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Also, it’s weird to call it fruit, but Bible people made a lot of gardening references back in the day, and it makes sense because God causes good things to grow in our lives.
So, anyway, back to joy.
Paul, the author of the book of Romans (actually, most of the New Testament), had a pretty easy time following Jesus. That is, if you think this sounds easy:
2 Corinthians 11:24-27 NLT
“Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
Who the heck gets shipwrecked three times? He was beaten over and over. He was cold, hungry, and exhausted . Because he followed God. And yet Paul can sincerely write of joy, peace, and hope! That’s the crazy thing about this God of ours: he is so trustworthy that even in the bleakest of circumstances we can be filled with all joy as we walk through them!
The Holy Spirit enables us to have joy because we can trust God’s word and his character. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has good plans for us. Nothing can separate us from his love. That’s where our joy is found: Not in favorable circumstances or worldly acquisitions, but in the hope of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Jesus himself walked through unimaginable suffering, because he knew what lay on the other side of his death.
Jesus’ joy was in what was to come, and ours must be, too. This life is not going to get any easier. We live in a spiritual war-zone. As Christians, suffering is not a maybe, it’s a definite. God’s word tells us to be joyful in suffering, too (James 1:2).
The long and the short of it is: life is short and eternity is long. As Christians, our joy rests in the promise of a beautiful forever in the very presence of Jesus. No more pain, no more sickness, no more sin, no more tears. This earthly life is cursed and always ends in death, but we are loved by the only One who conquers death! Joy!!!
Not so for those who want nothing to do with him.
That’s what these eighty-ish years are about: not finding fulfillment in ourselves or our accomplishments; but seeking God and his purpose for our life! Spoiler alert: it’s to know him as Lord and help others come along, so they can look forward with joy, too.
I will be the first to admit I am not always great at this. As I write this, my ear has been stuffy and painful for almost a week. So basically my life is the worst and I hate everything.
Perspective is the key.
When we focus on this world, it will be hard to maintain any sort of joy. It’s way too crazy out there, and if you’ve been paying attention to the current headlines, there’s no doubt Satan is alive and well. And that’s not to mention the personal heartaches and trials we go through individually. It won’t come naturally to choose joy when things aren’t going our way, but if we can just keep our focus on Jesus, we can have joy no matter what we are going through.
Even when our ears hurt. Or we’re beaten and shipwrecked( insert your actual problem here).