❤ Hey y’all! ❤ (Happy Monday btw 😉 )
Now on to today’s post… ❤
Joy is rooted in Jesus Christ.
True joy is a precious thing.
Even in the darkest, dreariest, bleakest circumstances, Christians have found this contagious, rare, and beautiful thing called joy.
I absolutely love the book of Philippians. One main reason is because of the sheer joy radiating throughout the text. “REJOICE…” Paul declares. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
But rejoice in what??
Paul wasn’t in a very “joyous” arena there in a Roman jailhouse. This wasn’t a joyful time. Rome was infested with evil. The emperors were heartless. Slavery was rampant. Poverty widespread. The life of a Christian wasn’t a glamorous thriller-type of existence. A lot of the time, it was just that— existence. Day to day survival.
Stories of horror abounded concerning the members of this perceived radical sect of Judaism which had gone down the deep end after their leader, a Jewish carpenter, was murdered using Rome’s version of the electric chair and was reportedly alive again somehow. The world was being turned upside down by twelve insignificant men. And this faith was spreading like wildfire despite the daily threat of death. Thrown to be torn apart by wild beasts. Mobs dragging believers out into the streets to be punished. Beaten. Starved. Whipped. Maimed for life or dead.
All because of one Man.
And this torture of believers was treated like a sport. Like going to watch a football game. Or a wrestling match. Except it got gory— and that’s what the Romans liked.
Like people addicted to horror movies.
And Paul was telling Christians to be joyful?!?
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4)
And Paul was near death. Very near. He could sense it. In chains 24/7, monitored by the imperial guard.
But that’s just it— he had access to the imperial guard. Access to Caesar’s own household. Access. And that’s all that mattered. Because Christ could then be proclaimed on a level like never before!!!
He saw his chains as a chance.
That’s a major mindset shift!
In Philippians 1, Paul details that because of his situation, believers were being emboldened to spread His message. That is huge. Courageously stepping into the line of fire because of one man’s testimony of faithfulness to Christ.
But then he also discusses some of the people’s motives. Some were truly genuine, but some were only doing so out of rivalry. They had a distaste for Paul and were rubbing it in.
And Paul’s response?
“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil 1:18)
The “what then” seems kind of like Paul’s “so what?”
He’s just thrilled Jesus is being preached to the needy masses! Let God deal with the individuals’ hearts.
Once again, another ‘bad’ situation (in this case some preachers’ raunchy motives) seen as an opportunity for good.
“Rejoice in the Lord.” (Phil 3:1a)
Again, not a piece of cake. This is a conscious choice to see the good God can do in the midst of the awful. And it must be done over and over again because, until we’re in heaven, this world is going to just keep on throwing curve balls.
When you get the phone call that alters all you ever knew.
When you had everything planned out and at the drop of a hat it goes down the drain.
When things happen that we just don’t understand. Someone we love passes on. Someone leaves us high and dry. Something caves in. Something falls apart.
It’s easy to say. But it’s an entirely different story to actually do.
We won’t understand, most of the time, why terrifying things occur or why heartache has to rend our lives in two.
But perhaps, like Paul says, they’re a path to something unimaginably greater. Something we cannot see yet. Something we may never get to see this side of heaven.
And then there are some things (like the personal story I’m going to share in the next post) that God allows us to get a glimpse of the purpose for, even while we’re yet breathing on planet earth.
Those glimpses are awe inspiring. Because God is lovingly showing us that He can use us— despite our flaws, despite our past. Our struggles. Our fears.
He can still use us to produce glory for Him.
There is so. Much. Joy. When you know that you are pleasing Him and are being a vessel of His love.
When we recognize all of the things God has done, is doing, and will do for us, we realize the joy that is already ours in Christ. He created us out of dust. He humbled Himself to save us from problems due to our own wickedness. He loves us. He’s got a plan for each one of us. He has mercy and grace upon us.
We’ve got hope beyond the grave.
And we have been given the privilege of inviting others who are lost to join us — to find Him. To love Him. To live forever with the Author of our lives…the Creator of our souls…the Breather of Life into our fallen beings.
If Christ is glorified, then, by golly— we’ve got reason to rejoice!!
And even though we may find ourselves raw, broken, and crying now, one Day we’ll lay eyes on Him. His hands. His feet. His side. His face. Those eyes flaming with holiness and perfect love. Our woes will melt, our persecution will cease, and our sinfulness will disappear. Our joy will be endless and nothing —absolutely NOTHING— will ever cause that joy and peace caused by His love and presence to end. That’s something to look forward to!!
So do not lose heart ❤️
Jesus = ultimate joy ❤️