What’s your joy capacity?
What types of things frustrate you? Overwhelming schedules, gridlocked traffic, a burned meal, finances that just don’t add up! These are things that can easily steal our joy. We all face them, so we know the potential they have to knock us off our perch.
What about the big things? A diagnosis of cancer, death of a loved one, loss of a home or career. These things are devastating. But do any of these things have the right to steal our joy? Well, it depends on where you have placed your significance. We hear many people say “At least the family is all together.” or “As long as we have our health, we have everything”. But even the most precious things in our lives like love, family, health, are not always guaranteed. What happens to our joy when the most important things to us evaporate?
Consider the words of Paul in Philippians 4:10-13
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Those words resonate and offer us a tremendous amount of hope. But how does one honestly attain to the level where they actually become reality? All people wrestle through life, healthy bodies and robust bank accounts do NOT make us immune to the struggles of life. There have been extremely wealthy men who admit they would give every penny away in a heartbeat, if they could see their child walk again or have their family restored. And there are people who are wheelchair bound that are thankful because their struggle has continuously drives them straight into the arms of Jesus every day.
So what is your joy capacity? If your joy is found in the presence and glory of Jesus, the circumstances of the day cannot dictate your contentment. They cannot steal your joy. Sadness, perplexities, temptations are very real, but when your joy is based on the reward of the world beyond this, the loss we may face in this world will not crush us. It will not steal our joy.
Saul, the well-respected religious leader of his day, became Paul and was told he was going to be the one to bring the Gospel to the kings of the world. Indeed he went from the temples to the prisons. That is a paradox for us. Most of us have the idea if we are going to influence the world around us, we need to be flush with resources, well-educated, and respected in our communities. But Paul, in losing his circumstances and becoming scorned, hated, and persecuted, was able to bring the Gospel to the Highest levels of the Roman Empire from the his dirty, underground prison cell. These were the cells from which, after the beatings, hymns of praise from the lungs of the persecuted reached the ears of the Creator of the world. Their reward would be the Christ himself.
At what point do the adversities of life have the right to stake their claim to your joy? Only you can decide. There will be pain and sorrow along the way, but he joy of our reward overcomes them and carries us through.