Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with God, no matter what our circumstances.
Joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. If such words as “joyous” and “joyful” are included, the number comes to over 200. The verb rejoice appears well over 200 times. Joy is the fruit of a right relationship with God (according to the Holman Bible Dictionary.) The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was born, the angels announced: “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10.) Even before His birth, Jesus had brought joy to his mother (Luke 1:47) and by the unborn John the Baptist’s response to hearing Mary’s voice as he “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44.) Jesus promised his disciples joy — a lifetime supply of it!
In happy or sad times, in comfort or difficulty, we find joy in the presence of the Lord. Focusing on Christ — who he is, what he’s done to save us, and his promise to keep us — brings a supernatural joy that can’t compare with temporary happiness. But it is not a passive activity of receiving. When we are in crisis or conflict, our knee-jerk reaction can be to protect our hearts, pride, or feelings. You are hurt, and you may initially want to lash out in defense, or pull back and lick your wounds, or curl up in a corner and give up. There is always a choice.
Prayer and rejoicing may not be the first or most natural inclination you feel, and it may cost you time and consideration. But joy is offered to us if we steady our gaze on Jesus. He promises we will have joy. Even in the hardest most challenging and unlikely circumstances, His word is good and faithful. If we have lost our joy, we may need to adjust our vision and focus. I am not saying that this is easy. I am saying joy is there. Look for it. Anticipate it. Don’t count God out. This is where prayer comes in. We will be challenged to hear from God and receive his joy if we are too busy spinning our wheels. Rejoice, slow down, pray. These help our perspective to be higher than our current situation.
What is your current state of joy? Not happiness. Joy. What can you do today to increase your measure of joy as promised? Can you set aside time today to reflect on Jesus and to rejoice in prayer? Is there anyone you know who is struggling? Would you consider praying for and with them? Not to force a temporary emotion of happiness, but to invite the peace that comes hand in hand with the deep joy of Jesus.
Lord, I thank you that you know the pain of this world yet you promise us joy, even in unexpected and unlikely places. You promise joy in the middle of the desert places when we are weary. You promise joy that allows us to see others even when we are tired and weary. You provide us joy that lightens the darkness around us. Help us also to invite others to receive this gift. Help us to rejoice in hope, be patient with ourselves, others, and life in general, and to bring it all to you in prayer. Amen.
Submitted by: Melissa Durand