Is your life full of pain and suffering?
As we live in a fallen and weary world, I am unsurprised if many of us are grieved at some kind of trouble. And as we are daily bombarded by bad news, trouble seems almost omnipresent.
Regardless of how dark your life looks, ask yourself this: Does each day truly need to be this heavy? Do we have a chance at joy? When was the last time we felt it?
In a world of suffering, what does the Bible say about joy?
CHOOSING JOY BRINGS HOPE
Read Psalm 32. In it, the Psalmist tells the righteous to rejoice. They shout for joy because they are “upright in heart” (Psalm 32:11). For them, that’s reason enough for joy – the forgiveness of their sin! Now they are justified with God.
We see something similar in Psalm 35, where David calls on God to fight on behalf of His people. That’s a psalm which looks forward to a people’s future salvation. On that day, they will rejoice in the Lord with gratitude (Psalm 35:9).
God is our only hope for joy.
Likewise, in the New Testament, believers are called to praise God for His promised salvation and to live out our salvation (1 Peter 1:5-6, 8-9). But unlike the physical deliverance from mortal enemies in the Old Testament, salvation here refers to being saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9, Ephesians 2:8).
As children of God, we are saved from eternal death. Do we know truly what that means? No matter what happens in this life, we have been saved by God – that’s reason enough to rejoice in every situation.
JOY AMIDST SUFFERING
True joy isn’t a transient feeling of pleasure or contentment.
Think of what Paul writes to the Philippians. He tells them they have a stable source of joy – their righteousness before God which they did not earn. Righteousness is a gift made possible through faith in Christ alone (Philippians 3:8-9).
As Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1) in spite of whatever circumstance, he’s in jail in Rome at the same time. That says something about the source of his joy.
As children of God who have eternal life (1 Peter 1:4), we can be sure that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). So, we rejoice knowing that nothing hinders God’s plan to make us more Christlike.
We respond with gratitude, rejoicing at our right standing with God and the hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:3, Titus 1:2) – not secured for us by our merit, but by Jesus’ work on the cross.
JOY IN GOD’S PRESENCE
God is our only hope for joy.
In Psalm 16, David expresses how he trusts and rejoices in God’s presence. Psalm 16:11, in particular, tells of a path to life and the fullness of joy that exists in God’s presence. In Acts 2:28, Peter looks back at Psalm 16:11, which points towards Jesus’ resurrection. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, Christians can likewise look forward to a future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23).
In my heart, I know that joy isn’t a fleeting emotion like happiness. My joy is grounded in the sure and certain hope of salvation. It’s not realistic to be always happy, but with God, it’s possible to always be joyful.
I thank God for the joy of salvation. I thank Him for calling me out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9).