It doesn’t seem normal to have joy and suffering mentioned in the same sentence, related to each other, yet we find this in the Bible several times. Many of the psalms of King David begin in questioning and anguish but end in praise. Living in joy while struggling through difficult circumstances is undoubtedly part of cross-cultural living and ministry!
Living in Opposites
How do we manage it, this “opposites in the same space” kind of life? It is assuredly not typical for any of us. It can only happen when we find ourselves in the middle of God’s will for us. Surrounded and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is produced in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are evident no matter what our external situation.
A Joyful Person
What are the habits of a joyful person, no matter what is going on around them?
A joyful person is not defined by their circumstance. We know that our worth does not come from who we are, what we have, or what we have done. Our value is found in who we are, what he has, and what he has done. Our actual value relates to the ransom paid to redeem us, which is beyond understanding.
A joyful person exists in community with the body of Jesus, giving and receiving love, acceptance, and forgiveness. No difficulty is easy faced alone, and Jesus never meant for us to live that way. In addition to the support network around us, he promised to be with us every step of the way until the end of this age.
A joyful person praises God in all things. Our emotions often follow our actions. As we praise, even in difficulty, our hearts are lifted. As mentioned in the intro, David begins many of his psalms in stress but ends them in praise. Many of Paul’s letters were written from prison, but all of them are filled with praise and thanksgiving.
A joyful person understands the long game. What we are experiencing now, no matter how difficult, is not forever. As Glen Packiam, pastor of New Life Downtown in Colorado Springs, has put it, “The worst thing is not the last thing.” Jesus is at the end of our path, and when we reach it, we will be like him.
Joy in suffering sets us apart from those who have no hope. It allows us to share how a life with Jesus is a life worth living and sharing.