What makes you happy? What truly brings joy to your life? What is it that can put a smile on your face or brighten your day no matter has happened? Hold on to that thought for just a moment…
We hear stories from time to time of those who have a real sense of joy even in the midst of a dire or difficult situation. Maybe it seems impossible to have joy when life is at its worst. Which is why I ask what really brings you joy?
What if our joy was bigger than just the present situation we find ourselves in? What if our joy was bigger than any circumstance? What if God’s joy was not only present in our trials and struggles, but also led us through them? That’s the joy I find in the scriptures.
The letter to the Philippians is one of the prison letters written by Paul in the Bible, and even here, imprisoned and in custody, Paul calls for joy to be in the Philippian church. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Paul doubles down on his call for joy.
It is hard to imagine someone sitting in a jail cell inviting others to be filled with joy and to truly rejoice. You might think the Philippian church should be writing to Paul and encouraging him to look on the bright side or encouraging him to be content in his difficult situation. But no, it is Paul himself from prison writing back to the Philippian church he previously visited encouraging them!
What we forget is that we are not joyful just because things are going our way. My friends our joy in Christ has to be much deeper than that! That is why Paul can say “rejoice always!”
In Jesus we find not just the joy that makes life a little easier or more pleasant to deal with, but the actual joy of the Lord! In Jesus we find a depth of joy that this world cannot understand, and it is like a contagion spreading from one to another. If joy is not dependent on circumstances, then we are also freed to share this joy with everyone.
Think again about what brings you joy… I am not just asking you to cling to and hold on to whatever fragments of joy that make today a little brighter, but to find the depth of joy because Christ is with you! May the joy of the Lord be with you now and always.
– Ian Conerly is the pastor at New Oregon United Methodist Church in Fort Payne.