Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The gift of joy is such a special blessing. Is there anything sweeter than your heart swelling with happiness?
What about joy in the midst of trials? I have found such hope joy during hardship, because I know this cannot come from me. God is so good and gracious to me that he puts that special gift in my heart as a deposit and guarantee of Christ living and working in me.
Joy is not circumstantial. Joy is a sign of a living God working a miracle in your life. Joy can be present during difficult and heart-wrenching times. It is an inner peace, a still calm, and a surety deep down. Through the ups and downs of this life, joy can be with us through Christ.
In a world where we are taught to live by circumstantial happiness, it is difficult to understand what joy amidst pain and sorrow looks like. When so many people are pulled and swayed by the world it is easy to spend time worrying about being “happy” instead of filled with “joy”. Happiness is fleeting and momentary. We are taught that trips to the mall and a new blouse might make us feel happy. We are tempted to ditch marriages when things get rough and “shop” online for the perfect partner. We want more and more to make us “happy”. But are we happy?
The joy of Christ is such a sweet, lovely blessing. I look at my neighbors. They are in their late 80’s or so. They have lived in the same house their entire life. They have been married since their twenties. They keep up their yard, live a simple life, and are very generous. Well, the husband has cancer and it has spread. Despite such a sad time, they are people who I would consider joyful. They love to play with my daughter, laugh and wave hello, and keep up their garden. I am moved and touched by their joy despite the shadow of death.
Yet, that is the power of joy. It is contagious and life-changing and beautiful. It comes free to us at a great cost. It is one of my favorite gifts from Jesus.