God has the ability to turn our sorrows into joy. That does not necessarily mean happiness; but pure joy that comes from the confidence of knowing God is in control. In the first part of Psalm 30:11 David exclaims, You turned my wailing into dancing. God can do that for all of us. Even when things are not going according to our plan, we can find joy in knowing God’s plan is perfect.
In the third letter from John, he writes to Gaius who is a prominent Christian in the Christian Church. John explains in 3 John 1:4 that Joy comes from the knowledge of the truth and walking with God in that truth: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Let us all find joy, peace, and contentment from walking with God regardless of our circumstances.
The hope we receive through our relationship with God is what gives us peace regardless of our circumstances. In Romans 15:13 Paul says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit living in us we can feel joy and peace no matter what is going on around us if we simply choose to submit to Him. God truly is the God of hope. Everything else comes from the fallen world around us. It is up to us to choose which voice we will listen to.
The circumstances of our lives should never dictate our joy. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul says, 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. If we are able to obey these three things, we begin to see people around us and the circumstances of our lives in a whole new light. Additionally, when we live life according to God’s plan for our lives, we will find it much easier to be joyful and thankful for all we have.
No one likes to suffer under any circumstances, but in today’s reading James talks about considering it “pure joy” when we face trouble. James 1:2-3 says, 2 Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Notice how James does not say “if“, but “whenever” you face trials. We will all face trials of many kinds throughout our lives, but “joy” implies having a positive outlook because of the potential learning these trials can have in our lives. Ultimately, if we allow it, trials can lead us to develop perseverance (also called patience and steadfastness) in our lives.
I cannot wait to feel the joy of seeing Jesus face to face for the first time. When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus for the first time after His resurrection is probably a good glimpse of what it will be like for us. John 20:15 paints the picture, Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). When I read the part where Jesus calls Mary’s name, I try to replace her name with mine on the day I see Him for the first time face to face.
Jesus gave His disciples a great example of what His suffering would look like and why it would all be worth it in John 16:21, A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. Through the suffering of birth comes so much joy that a mother will forget what happened moments earlier. This is what Jesus’ suffering was like. I anguish over the thought of what Jesus endured for each of us on the cross. Yet, on Sunday, we will rejoice to know He is risen from the dead for the forgiveness of all our sins. The joy of knowing He is alive and that He suffered for me is overwhelming.
In today’s reading, David makes it clear he knows where his joy and stability come from. In Psalm 16:2 he says, I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” All that is good in my life, like David’s, comes from God. Whether it is my marriage, my kids, or my friendships; if it does not come from God, it will not give me the joy and peace I need for true contentment.
Whether it is physically in a church building or figuratively in prayer and communication with God, we find comfort in being in the presence of the Lord. Psalm 84:4 Blesses are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. True joy is found when we find a way to be in God’s presence.
Tomorrow is Easter! It is my favorite day of the year. When I think of all the suffering Jesus endured for me and then realize He conquered it all, there is nothing but joy and peace I feel for knowing I serve the God who stands over everything, including death. Though I sometimes feel like “doubting” Thomas, most of the time and especially on Easter I feel like the Thomas in John 20:28, Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus is Lord over all and He is my God because He created me, loves me, died for me, and saved me. What else is there? What else could He possibly do to prove who He really is? I love Jesus… that is all.