Joy in the Tough Times
Quick; first person in the bible that pops into your mind when you think of a tough journey...? I think of the apostle Paul.
2 Corinthians 11:23- 28 says that Paul dealt with beatings, imprisonments, 39 lashes (5 times), he was stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, under house arrest, and in chains.
I'm over here like, "Wah, I got a paper cut and I'm just having a bad day. Woe is me!" If you were in Paul's situation, in prison for telling others about Jesus, could/would you remember the important things? OR would you be thinking about how unjust the system was, or how unfair God was, or how hard the floor was to sleep on… Priorities. I'm going to be real with you, I have a sick habit of only focusing on lil' ole' me when I'm facing trials.
Not only was the book of Philippians written from prison, the theme of Philippians is JOY! It’s all over this little 4 chapter book/letter.
"Rejoice, and again I’ll say it, rejoice."
How can we get this joy?
It certainly can't be circumstantial or situational. Look at what Paul was dealing with! I'm gonna tell you real quick, my natural instinct isn't to throw up my hands, happy dance, and rejoice when I'm suffering.
Does this joy only come to us when all our problems are solved and life is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy? How do you have real genuine joy in spite of what trials are going on in your life?
Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.
Have you ever seen or experienced the redeeming work of God in your life? When God changes tragedy to something beautiful? Exchanges mourning for dancing? Trades despair for joy? Jesus is in the business of Joy Restoration. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this in my own life. But my hope is that my feeble attempt to share my testimony through this blog will shed some light on this beautiful characteristic of Christ.
J.R.R. Tolkien – "I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears... And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible... and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love."
Through tragedy in your life, the devil intends to steal, kill and destroy your joy, but God has greater plans. (John 10:10)
Your pain doesn't have to be wasted.
Your suffering is not in vain.
Although it's hard to see, God has a pleasant plot twist, where greater joy can come even in your grieving, hurting, and suffering. Friend, do you realize that God has the ability to use the problems, tragedies, and heartaches of your life? How about the chains in your life? Is God big enough to break them? Yes. He can take a bad situation and turn it around! Does that mean that he will always solve the problem and deliver you in the way you had expected? No. But it does mean that He can use any and every situation for His glory. Heck yes it does.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
He is our strength, our comforter, our counselor, our guide. He is loving, and attentive. He hears our cries. He knows our hearts. He feels our pain. He sees you and he is right there with you; right beside you. The Holy Spirit is our Paraclete, our advocate and helper.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.