Does everything have to be in its right place and every situation a welcome gift for there to be joy?
It’s easy to think that difficult situations make joy impossible. I think that’s why I listen to Paul when he talks about joy. He was isolated, beaten, misunderstood, accused, chained, snake-bit, shipwrecked, threatened, stoned, and not just once. Yet, he talked about joy like an anchor, like his north star, like something that wasn’t just a mood that could pass or an adrenalin rush that fizzled out.
Where did Paul find joy in the middle of circumstances that would make us question God? What changed inside him so that no matter what happened, joy came out anyway?
That’s the kind of joy I want!
The only answer I can find is that his encounter with the resurrected Christ was so life-changing, he didn’t just start a new chapter in his life; he started a new book. His blindness was his tomb. Paul died there to everything he had given his life to. But Jesus opened his dark tomb and shared resurrected life with Paul. Paul never got over that darkness-to-light transformation. So I listen when he says . . .
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
. Philippians 3:10
No greater power exists in the world than resurrection power. Resurrection power opens, repairs, heals, transforms. Resurrection power is better than vitamins, coffee, Red Bull or any other artificial energy booster. I will never believe that it was Paul’s insatiable optimism that became his joy. It was his encounter with the resurrected, living Christ that changed Paul’s perspective and direction. It was because this joy was not self-directed or personality-driven.
Sometimes we spend more time reflecting on the journey to the cross rather than the journey from the tomb! Easter makes me re-center my life around the resurrection, not just the cross. I can never see this power separate from Christ. You have to “know” Christ because his resurrection power opens in that knowing. I do not “master” this power, the resurrected Christ masters me! What he won for me through his sacrifice, I accept. It is more than forgiveness and a clean slate. It is the power to live in a continual exchange with the living Christ.
Where do we live without joy? Where have we slipped into an up-to-me fatalism that brings struggle and overwork that steals joy? The good news is that the resurrected Christ will find us there and open our tomb so that we can live with a joy that does not come from circumstances going your way. It comes straight from knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection to make all things new.
Are you understanding how much rich treasure there is in small bites of scripture? Just to live a small portion like this verse will take focus, discipline, and much surrender! That's where all the growth happens.
Sharing the journey with Joy!