Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What makes you joyful?

At my church’s Wednesday night adult group once we were talking about joy. It’s one of those things that the Apostle Paul talks about as “The Fruit of the Spirit.” That is to say, when the Spirit of God is in us one of the things that should be produced in us is joy.

So we split into two groups (men and women) to come up with the top 5 things we think the average person in America thinks would bring them joy. If you had to pick 5, what would you think the average person would say?

Here’s what our men came up with:

1. Propane – yes, we lived in the Midwest. If you weren’t aware there was a propane shortage there. Go ahead, read all about it. It was leaving many people without heat (or paying exorbitant prices). Yes, having propane would make many joyful.

2. Financial windfall/winning the lottery. I’ve got 100 problems and 90 of them would be resolved if I had more money. That would definitely make me joyful!

3. Romance/significant other. I just want someone to share my life with. That would make me joyful.

4. Good health. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I would be so much happier if I had good health.

5. Helping others. I get such a good feeling when I help others.

Were these close to what you came up with?

The problem with all of these answers is that they are connected to temporary things. None of them is permanent. Cold weather, bills, people, health, and good feelings all come and go. If we look to these things for our joy then we’re always going to be chasing.

That kind of joy is a pipe dream.

It’s not the kind of joy we see in the Bible when Peter writes:

He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while…you have been grieved by various trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6)

Finding joy in the middle of trials and tough time feels impossible, yet time and time again the Bible talks about joy in the midst of suffering. You see, from the Bible’s perspective, joy isn’t based on temporary things and events. Though such things might give us joy for a bit they will eventually fade. It is when we are able to shift focus and take our eyes off of this world and focus on what’s coming for us later that we can know joy no matter what we face in this life.

It’s about holding on to our eternal circumstances over our temporary trials.

I might not know what you’re going through. It may be excruciating. But we know and believe that one day we will rest easy in the presence of Yahweh. All the wrongs will be made right. All the hurts will be healed. We will know a permanent and lasting joy unlike anything we have ever experienced.

Until that day, that hope anchors us here and now. May we learn to say with the Apostle Paul:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (Philippians 4:11)

Amen.

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