I feel like my writings have seemed so negative lately. And I wonder how on this earth I can share joy and be encouraging to others when I am so disheartened in my own life.
But then I look around me and it seems as if almost everyone I know is living lives of dissatisfaction. No one seems to be living the dream anymore.
Sure there are some happy times. Sure there is a spot of joyfulness here and there, but for the most part, many of us get by by just getting by.
We are to be joyful. We are to be rejoicing as we go. What does that mean?
Did the first century church have it better than we do? Did Paul, a writer that writes about rejoicing, live a life of peace and contentment?
We know that they didn't. So what is the difference? Why do we struggle so much to live joyfully?
We think of joy in worldly terms. We think joy equates with happiness. We think to be joyful means that we are always cheery and smiley.
But biblical joy is different. Biblical joy is a contentment that comes from knowing that something far better awaits us. So we can endure for now by holding to the hope of God.
It's kind of like going to the dentist. We don't like to go. We don't want to go. But go, we will, and endure because we know we will be better off because of it.
Christian joy is not "fake it til you make it" cheerfulness. Christian joy is enduring because we know something far better will be ours.
Some examples of biblical joy are below.
*Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
*and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:40-41 ESV)