Yesterday's sermon was on joy. It's kinda funny because there was hardly anyone there to hear it. Bart was preaching to the smallest number of people I think we've ever seen at this church since we moved here and they looked pretty glum. But, if you've read my weekly summary, you know that we were pretty glum too.
The thing about joy is that it isn't how we envision it most of the time. I think we see Joy as skipping through the daisies happy, but it isn't always like that. Sometimes joy, like in the movie Inside Out, is in the background fighting fiercely with fear, anger, sadness and disgust. Sometimes joy is at the forefront of our emotions, but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes we have to go through the hard times in order for joy to prevail and, when it does, be even more meaningful. In 1st Peter we are reminded:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
or, as it says in the message:
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.So Bart's point yesterday, and mine this morning, is that there can be joy in the midst of all of life. I don't know that I have ever quoted him before in my blog, but John Calvin said:
"Christians rejoice even while they truly sorrow - - because their rejoicing is in the hope of heaven....While joy overcomes sorrow, it does not put an end to it."So today, even when I don't feel like joy is winning, I know that joy will prevail. We have been promised this -- that when we share in His suffering, we will also share in His joy.
Looking back on my life I have realized that without the pain of suffering, joy is meaningless. And I've also learned that even in the midst of all of the stuff that life throws at me, joy is just around the corner. It comes in the morning after a long hard night. Always.
And it will this time too.