Pamela Myers Palmer
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," Romans 14:17
The promise of joy seems almost unattainable. Could life really be full of joy? Could our hearts really feel joy in the midst of everything going on around us? Not only is joy possible, but joy is a fruit of the Spirit we are instructed to bear. Joy isn't dependent on our situation, but rather, can persist in the face of any obstacle we encounter.
It may seem strange to suggest finding joy in the world we live in. Or to even laugh or make light of difficult situations or to stop dwelling on the negative. But the truth is that sometimes, joy is the answer. Sometimes, joy is just what we need to find relief, hope, and a new perspective. Joy allows us to see God's hand in life. Joy reminds us that there is still life to be lived, and Kingdom work to be done. Joy lets us trust God, and to savor the goodness in our lives. Because regardless of hardships, we still have much to be grateful to God for.
Joy makes it possible to see the goodness of God in all circumstances.
The gift of following Jesus isn't lots of eating and drinking, as the verse above points out. That's the kind of socializing we like to do here on earth, and certainly, those can be enjoyable aspects of life, but the kingdom of God gives us so much more to look forward to. Following Jesus is about the joy we receive in the Holy Spirit, along with peace, righteousness, and so much more.
When I have gone through challenges in my life, suffered, been letdown or betrayed, it is the joy of the Lord that has truly been my strength (see: Nehemiah 8:10), and I know this is possible for you, as well, when you pursue joy regardless of what is going on in your life.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19
As followers of Jesus, we are to bear the fruit of joy. That means we carry joy where we go. When others are cast down, with joy we can be the listening ear and godly presence they need. Joy makes space for us to boldly and courageously enter into the pit with someone else, or to endure our own trials.
When chaos seems inevitable, when evil seems like it's getting ahead, when you're facing the unknown, choose joy. Don't forget to bear the fruit of joy by the power of the Holy Spirit working within you. Your joy will help you, and it will be a light to others and hopefully draw others to God.
Let us pray
Lord, thank you that when life seems to go crazy and feels overwhelming or scary, you give us strength and you give us joy that endures the ups and downs. We ask that you teach us to live out joy and to bear this amazing fruit of the Spirit. Let our joy be contagious and inspire others to give their lives over to you. We ask that you would draw near to us and calm our fears, filling us with a deep sense of peace and joy, regardless of our unique circumstances. Thank you for your loving presence in this world, and that you are with us always. Amen.
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