Theology Thursday: Joy in Christ
Things over the past 2 years (really 3 if you have lived in Haiti) have been really difficult. Covid has run roughshod through our country and the world while bringing to light other and deeper issues in its wake. Everything in our world has turned political to the point that it can be difficult to even know how to talk to people anymore all while everyone reading this has probably either lost a friend or loved one or known someone that has.
I have heard some people complain that the world is being turned upside down or that our values and ethics are being tested at every turn. About half of America believes very strongly in certain things while the other half believe the exact and complete opposite.
The bottom line is that things are really hard and every time you think they are getting easier you find out very quickly...They are not.
I remember last year in April thinking, "If we can just get to the summer things would improve." Then I heard the vaccine was coming and I thought, "If we can just all take the vaccine." Then Delta comes and the end just never seems to be in sight.
When times are like this, it can be hard to experience and feel joy even if you know where your joy comes from. When we cannot get down to Haiti because of unrest and now an earthquake, when there are demonstrations in both the countries we love, and when friends and family members are dying things can seem bleak.
Here is the thing about joy...When you know Jesus, nothing can take it away from you.
My joy is that when my life is over, no matter how it ends, I will be in the presence of my GOD and my Savior. I will experience the depth of His love and glory for the rest eternity and every single day I will learn something and experience an aspect of Him that I had not experienced ever before...Forever!
When Paul says, in Philippians 4, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" he was not speaking in hyperbolae. And I used to think of this type of joy as cerebral, almost emotionless. I used to think of it as being the "knowledge" that we have already won. But that is not correct, and that is not joy.
At its foundation, joy is emotional. Joy can make you laugh, cry, smile, weep, stand still in awe, and dance around in happiness...Sometimes all at the same time. But our joy is an almost miraculous joining of the cerebral with the emotional, the intellect with the soul. Joy is supernatural and completely natural at the same time.
My joy is in Christ. So when a brother or sister in Christ, no matter how much I love them, dies...I rejoice! When I see hard times in the world...I rejoice because I am that much closer to the presence of GOD. When good things are happening, I rejoice because of the blessings of GOD.
My point is that we cannot let circumstances steal the joy that GOD has given us. Even if our joy looks like weeping and not dancing, our joy in Christ is still there. Even if our joy is in the midst of uncertainty (like it is for many of us right now) or uneasiness, it is still there.
My challenge is for all of us to live joyfully. My challenge is for us (me included) to not live defeated, to not live in opposition to those we disagree with, and to live our lives like we are in the presence of GOD...Because we are His sons and daughters right now and eventually we will be in His Presence...Forever.