Joy seems missing in many places these days. Life in social distancing and for singles living alone have made matters worse for many. Not only do we have to deal with a pandemic, but we also have to deal with the effects of isolation, employment uncertainty and loss, and economic downturn. How long does it take for you to be overwhelmed when you start to think about it all? But then enters God’s Word:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
You may respond with “Rejoice?! Does God not know the difficulties of life right now?” That’s not a bad question, in all honesty. But the answer is just as important and valid: Yes, he does!
In fact, the same Paul who God inspired to write those words endured crazy things like beatings, a shipwreck, house arrest, prison time (much worse than American prisons), abuse and stoning (and lived!) among other severe persecutions. It’s this Paul that cheerfully wrote to rejoice in the Lord always. Paul, guided by the Spirit, also writes:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).
Rejoicing, praying and giving thanks are God’s will for us.
I firmly believe that our problem with joy is rooted in the common problem we experience in our lack of prayer and thankfulness. As Christians, prayer is a lifeline to our Creator and Sustainer. And giving thanks to God is a huge way that we take focus off ourselves and place it on God.
Self-focused people lack deep, abiding joy.
Take 5-10 minutes today and thank God for several things. Be detailed in your thanksgiving. And tomorrow, wake up and do the same. No matter what circumstance comes our way, give thanks, pray and then rejoice. God is with you in Christ Jesus. This is no small thing.
Make it a goal to find the joy in everyday tasks. When you start to complain, catch yourself and give thanks instead. I don’t think it will take long for your heart to fill with joy instead of discontentment.
And please, give yourself grace as you take this path towards God. Most of us won’t wake tomorrow and always accomplish the tasks of thanksgiving, prayer and joy. But you can keep walking in the grace of God.
We have the pleasure of displaying joy to the woeful world around us, not because we have things going our way or the social isolation is preferable or everything is always easy for us, but because God is with us and will never leave us. Christ didn’t die on the cross for us to be isolated from God. The Son of God brought us close by coming to us first. That’s a powerful love.
Do you want to see and feel the closeness and faithfulness of God’s love towards us in Christ? Read Romans 8:38-39. Oh how powerful and amazing and close the love of God is!
This is where we find joy in difficulties. This is where we live lives of joy during a pandemic and social distancing. This is where we can rest in the joy of God. And you can have this today.
My prayer for you as you go forward seeking joy in the everyday comes from Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”