We finished a two-part message on choosing joy at The Way last Sunday. It was not a joy-filled experience for me, however. I had some difficult effects of my auto-immune disease Sunday morning that left me shivering and weak in my big lounge chair, huddled in a blanket, with no thoughts of standing behind a pulpit. I called a board member and asked him to fill in, which he graciously agreed to even though he had no warning and no preparation time.
When it was almost time for song service to begin, I was feeling a bit better and decided to get dressed and head over to church. I walked in during song service and sat down to bring the second part of a joy-message. But first … first I had to address some church etiquette issues. There was nothing major, minor housekeeping types of things, but still not something on my favorites-list to do.
Finally, JOY! One of the Scriptures in the message hit home for me. It is from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.
“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit…” [1:6 HCSB]
Joy and Affliction – not necessarily words you find together. But for Christians, joy is found in all types of situations and circumstances. Joy and Success. Joy and Trials. Joy and Tribulations. Joy and Good Health. Joy and Chronic Disease. You can put joy with anything we face because it is not based on anything we face … it is based on “Whose we are.” We belong to God Almighty through the work of Christ Jesus our LORD, and our joy is secure in that relationship.
But as I looked up that verse again this morning, I was reminded that there is more to it. The verse that directly follows is part of the same sentence. “…so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” [1:7 HCSB]
Christian Joy amid affliction not only benefits us. When we exhibit joy during trials, we provide an example to others who believe, so that they might be strengthened with joy also in their trials. God never wastes anything!