I remember a time when I had questions about having joy. How can one have joy in the hard things in life? How do you walk through life with great joy regardless of your circumstances. I didn’t understand. There are those that tried to explain it to me, but my mind seemed blind to understanding.
I would always ask “how does one have joy when a father dies and leaves his 24 year old wife with 3 children under the age of five? Where is the joy of watching your mother try to destroy herself? Or a child being abused? How can you have joy as you watch a father beat your mother?”
Many of the answers I received where something along the line of sin being in the world and you just have to get beyond those things, forgive those who hurt you. I remember some saying that I needed to forgive God! REALLY? As if God has ever done anything that needed to be forgiven of! Where is that in scripture? It’s sad to recall all the well meaning answers and advice that is not based on truth, or bits and pieces of truth.So what is the answer to having joy under trials, temptations, distress, stress and so on?
Here is what I have learned. This is what I know. No, you will find nothing new, but what I realized today is that I have forgotten what the past has taught me. I needed to be reminded. Maybe you need the reminder too.
What I failed to understand then is that it is impossible to have joy in your suffering. There is nothing joyful about suffering, pain, sorrow, distresses or tribulations. I was trying to find joy IN my current circumstances. The object of my joy was all wrong. Nothing about the tribulation or suffering itself can produce joy.
I CAN NOT produce joy on my own. Oh I can put on a happy face, look all bubbly on the outside and TRY to look joyful. But that is not joy and it WILL NOT last.
The object of my joy must be God, and God alone. God, a covenant keeping God and Father in Christ. I need to look to the God of my salvation. I need to remember that He is Christ, the One who pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin.
He, GOD, is the object of my joy.
Joy can never be produced by me or by my circumstances. Joy is the product of the Spirit and it lies in the spiritual. Now so there is no misunderstanding, I am not talking about the joy I felt on my wedding day or the day a child is born or something good happened. I am addressing the joy I am to have that is mentioned in James 1:2 when it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,”
What I am talking about is that deep sense of joy knowing that no matter what comes your way you KNOW you will walk through it. You know that it will not destroy you. We can have joy because our focus is not us (ME) at all. My focus is God.
During trials and suffering I am to look to Him and what I know He is doing. He is a covenant keeping God and I know that He does not seek to destroy me but seeks to grow and mature me into His image.
I can also have joy in my trials when I consider who my God is. He is covenant God, the Father of great mercy, the God of all comfort and salvation, who pardoned my sins, clothes me with the robes of righteousness and garments of salvation, and accepts me in Christ. Being mindful of these things should bring great joy and gladness. In Christ there is always a reason for joy because of his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice for me.
God is not asking me to be joyful that I am suffering. He is asking me to find joy, to be joyful in knowing that He is testing my faith in order to produce endurance. I need to allow God to grow it in me with all joy. He assures me that when my endurance is fully developed I will be strong in character and ready for whatever God has planned.
Joy is a product of the Spirit of God not our circumstances.