July 9, 2016
READ: Philippians 4:1-4,9-11
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (v.4).
I recently called a friend who has endured more than his share of hardship and weariness. People dear to him, people he loves, have made choices that have caused themselves pain and brought him heartache. When my friend answered the phone, however, his voice was bright.“How are you?” I asked. His answer was quick. “I’m actually doing great. I’m listening to an album from a rhythm and blues singer...and it’s impossible to listen to his music and feel sad.” I was glad to hear that my friend was doing well. I also knew that I needed to acquaint myself with this music that pushes away the dark clouds of sadness.
The truth is that there are seasons for us to learn to feel our sadness, and other times for us to learn the art of joy. It’s a reality we can embrace even in the midst of sorrow. Paul (writing from prison) instructed us to have joy “in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4). Joy comes from the deep confidence that no matter what trial, suffering or evil we encounter, our God is with us and sustains us.
Joy doesn’t come because we’ve accomplished our goals or because circumstances have come out in our favour. Rather, true joy arises when we recognise that we are loved by God and held by Him. This is why Paul could say that he had learned to be content with whatever he had, because he trusted that God would always give him whatever he needed (v.11).
Joy allows us to have the right measure of self-forgetfulness and a carefree playfulness, shaped by the truth that our life isn’t actually ours to maintain. When we grasp that our life is in God’s hands, we can find joy in every twist and turn. This must have been why C. S. Lewis referred to joy as “the serious business of heaven”.
365-day plan: Mark 4:1-29
Read James 1:2-3 and consider why James concluded that trials can bring joy.
What has hindered you from experiencing joy this week? Why is joy such a powerful tool in dealing with life’s ups and downs?