Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
Fight for Joy!
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). I’m sitting here at Scott Air Force Base listening to The Cathedrals sing the awe inspiring song of hope: We Shall See Jesus. Songs like this serve to remind us of the hope we have as believers of something better to come. That something, of course, is eternity with Jesus. It will be an eternity without pain, without suffering, without sickness, without sin, and praise be to God, without death! With such an awesome future that awaits us as believers, why then do most believers fail to experience ongoing, deep abiding joy?
The pain and suffering of our lives encompasses a myriad of possibilities. Cancer. Calamity. Conflict. Sadness. Death. These are all normal aspects of our existence here. It is the things we must deal with on our way to heaven. God knows this, yet over and over again He admonishes us to have joy. This raises a legitimate question: Is it possible to experience biblical joy in the midst of pain, suffering and sadness? Numerous times throughout the scriptures we are commanded to rejoice. Even Paul, who wrote many of his letters from prison and whose own letters include an autobiographical description of his own pain and suffering, said over and over to rejoice. In Philippians 2:18, he wrote, “I urge you, rejoice.” In the next chapter he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord” (3:1). Yet again, in the next chapter (4:4) he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Obviously, this is the word of the Lord!
So what’s the secret? I believe the key is found in Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, constant in prayer.” Here Paul tells us to do three things which I believe is at the very core of experiencing joy, even in the midst of pain, suffering and sadness. Notice he says, “Rejoice in hope.” Don’t miss this: Our joy is rooted in our hope! This hope is, as the writer of Hebrews says, “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (6:19). In Colossians 1:27, Paul described it as, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Romans 8:18 ties it all together: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” We have the sure hope of glory. Therefore, we can have joy right now, even in the midst of suffering, because one day it will all fade into glory when Christ’s face we finally see. What a hope! Therefore, “Rejoice in hope.”
Secondly, he tells us to, “be patient in tribulation.” This is possible, if I understand the hope that is mine in Jesus Christ. Even the writer of Hebrews said this is, “a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered” (6:19-20). Finally, he tells us to be, “constant in prayer.” If I am to “rejoice in hope,” and “be patient in tribulation,” then I must be a person of prayer. I must give priority to my relationship with God, even when I do not like or understand what is going on in my life. I must be a person of deep and committed prayer. There is a mystery here. When I fight for joy, through rejoicing in hope, patiently enduring tribulation and constantly praying, God does what only God can do. He brings about the joy of the Lord through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit in my life. To God be the glory!
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