... Joy?


New Member
Even in this gay* time of year, I've seen many joyless faces in the world (including my own) and read many depressing and angry posts on a forum I frequent (a few of them my own). Surely you can understand why.

It's not just the stresses of this time of year, where giving impressive gifts are more important than giving one's soul to Our Saviour. It's also life. Bad things happen, and make us feel like life is coming apart. Some of us have absolutely no direction or control in life and feel like our lives have no meaning or value. I mean, we know God values our lives, but we just can't see or feel it.

Yet Paul tells us in the Scriptures:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (DRB) said:
Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.

I am sure the rejoicing Paul refers to does not mean we are to go around acting like everything's hunky-dory and the world is built on a bed of roses when the world is has evil in it and most places and hearts are far from being anything like a bed of roses.

So, then, how are we, as Christians, supposed to live joyfully through these kinds of pain and emptiness? Essentially, what is Christian joy? What does Christian joy look like (in contrast to worldly, sugary joy)?

I pray that this Christmas season, we, too, many see God and in Him find joy in our weakest moments. Especially me.

*gay means "happy". I am reclaiming this word for happy people everywhere, darn it! :p
*gay means "happy". I am reclaiming this word for happy people everywhere, darn it! :p
This comment made me giggle. Thank you for making me gay* for a moment.

I can see someone pulling the previous statement out of context and using it against me in the future. Good thing I have no intention of ever running for public office.

So, then, how are we, as Christians, supposed to live joyfully through these kinds of pain and emptiness? Essentially, what is Christian joy? What does Christian joy look like (in contrast to worldly, sugary joy)?
The joy that comes from knowing no matter what happens, I am loved by my Savior and He has saved me. Not to mention, the everlasting life spent with Him. That is a wholesome joy. It reverberates throughout our being. It doesn't mean we are always smiling and happy, but we are confident in our salvation and our God.
I think that Paul sums it up perfectly in Philippians 1:12-26:

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul introduces this section by talking about his imprisonment, his beatings, his trials and journeys. It all lead to opportunities to preach the Gospel.

As he enters the third portion, he recognizes that his sufferings lead to an exaltation of Christ - that Paul's life is a reflection of Immanuel living within him. Paul doesn't mention this to make the reader praise Paul, but to recognize that our actions and responses to difficulties show what is really in our hearts. While Paul continues to face hardships (and know that his death is looming in the near future) he states that his joy comes from his hope in Christ.

Christ's assurance of restoration and life is indeed something to be excited about, even in the hardships that we suffer. Christian joy is not about smiling despite pain, but keeping our eyes focused on the eternal, knowing that something better is yet to come.
When I was going through a dark time in my life (read my post in the Testimonies section), I had many of these same thoughts. In-fact a lot of what I had read in the Bible made only superficial sense to my admitedley darkened mind.

The lesson that I learned from that is in-essence exactly what Patriot mentioned in the post above mine.

Whatever we focus our minds on sinks down into our hearts, and whatever we meditate on becomes larger and stronger. This is why it is so important to follow the advice in Philippians 4:8. And it is also interesting to mention that there is nothing more lovely, true, pure, and good than Christ Jesus.

I have watched people quite literally destroy themselves by constantly dwelling on the bad things; and I have also seen people be saved (myself included) by re-focusing onto Jesus. There is truly healing power in Him, but as He said we must "drink His living water" and that is a metaphor for "ingesting and digesting Him mentally and spiritually" among other things.

So yes when we re-focus our perceptions and look through heavenly eyes instead of earthly eyes, then regardless of whatever is going on in the world around us, the peace and joy of Jesus Christ is our refuge and strength.

That was more long-winded than I intended.
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I'm glad.... May you and yours truly have a very merry Christmas and Happy and blessed New Year in Christ.