Friday, February 24, 2006

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26

Joy is defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary in this way: “To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.” As an example the dictionary quotes Habakkuk 3:18 which exults “…yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

In the Bible wonderful and great events are always greeted with joy. The angels were joyful when they exclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest,” declaring the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14. The disciples in Luke 24:41 also showed great joy upon seeing their risen Lord.

Good things are almost always a cause for joy, but what about when things don’t go as we planned or something seriously tragic happens? Are we to have joy then? James 1:2-5 tells us to “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. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

We are to glory in the Lord and rejoice in our trials. God is great, and whatever else is going on, He is faithful and just. As my mother says, it is in our difficulty that we need joy the most. In Nehemiah 8:10 we are told, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

A perfect example of this relates to my mother in September of 1998. Our family had driven four days to make the move from Massachusetts to Oklahoma. It was the worst week of my entire life. We had driven into the wee hours of the morning every day driving an oversized moving truck with a car trailer attached to the back. The contraption would not back up, and it got stuck over and over again. We almost went over a cliff once in the mountains of Kentucky, and multiple problems had arisen. We were relieved when we reached our new home and unloaded our belongings. Only one thing needed to be done to rid ourselves of the gigantic monster. It needed to be driven back to the truck location.

That was easier said than done. My parents were unfamiliar with the neighborhood and so fell into perhaps the worst trap of the entire town. A street around the corner was straight and level before suddenly dropping steeply down to the intersection below. It did not gradually level out again but just as suddenly became level again. It was here that our truck became stuck once more. My mom was very tempted to become depressed and irritated.

A bird was tweeting musically in a tree nearby without a care in the world. Mom was reminded to rejoice in the little pleasures and to enjoy the beauty of the day. She gave thanks to God that we had arrived safely and without any greater mishap than a constantly stuck truck. There is great encouragement in finding the silver lining in our troubles. God is great and worthy to be praised.

The Psalmist gives repeated exclamations of joy and praise to God. Psalm 32:11 is a shining illustration of this. “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

6 comments:

Robert W Moore said...

...What an encouraging message. Not only has the Lord given us much in life to be joyful about, but He is our joy!

Your story brings back memories. Sometimes the memories are not pleasant in every detail, but we can rejoice that God is merciful.

Here we are!

Dad

Twain said...

Thanks for the congrats. Yes, I may become a writer. I want to write a book, and I have started already. Thanks for voting, and I did use your nickname for a username on the Internet. Look for a new contest soon. I already am brainstorming for a new one.

Anonymous said...

I find that joy is necessary in our lives.... One way to keep that straight is a little acrostic I use...

Jesus first
Others second
Yourself last....

works every time.... We just seem to get our priorities out of order sometimes..

Grandpa

Susanna Moore said...

Thanks Elizabeth!! Leave it to you to make things sound fine and dandy!! The "silver lining" part reminds me of Stuart Little 2 when the dad is trying to cheer Stuart up and I know there is a song by Jerome Kern called "Look For the Silver Lining." It's a song I really enjoy singing. Thank you for the Biblical insight!!!

Robert W Moore said...

Susanna,

That Jerome Kern song is one of my favorites from the Broadway classics!

V.1
Please don't be offended if I preach to you awhile,
Tears are out of place in eyes that were meant to smile.
There's a way to make your very biggest troubles small,
Here's the happy secret of it all.

REFRAIN
Look for the silver lining
Whene'er a cloud appears in the blue.
Remember somewhere the sun is shining
And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you.
A heart, full of joy and gladness
Will always banish sadness and strife.
So always look for the silver lining
And try to find the sunny side of life.

V.2
As I wash my dishes, I'll be following your plan,
Till I see the brightness in every pot and pan.
I am sure your point of view will ease the daily grind,
So I'll keep repeating in my mind...

REFRAIN
Look for the silver lining ...etc.

Thankfully,we know that our silver lining is the grace of God and His amazing, providential care for us as children.

Pastor Steve said...

An apt word fitly spoken. Thanks for the reminder Elizabeth. It is all to easy to look at what is not as we would have it, instead of thanking the Lord that He knows what we need and is graciously granting it.

Keep writing!

PH