Conntecting the Dots

How Can We Experience Joy When Life’s Hard?

I’m preparing material for a new retreat package called “Un.shake.able Joy.” The more I study, the more excited I become about the truths in God’s Word and how they’re meant to transform our lives. Here’s a nugget I learned yesterday.

joy shines brightest

The apostle Paul wrote the book of 1 Thessalonians to encourage the believers to stand strong for the Gospel’s sake despite persecution. He says,“So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you”  (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NLT).

It’s easy to glaze over a verse like that because it doesn’t pop off the page with a promise to us, or so it seems. But wait. The Greek word used for “suffering” (thlipsis) is a strong word that implies intense afflictions. According to Bible teacher Rick Renner, it conveys the idea of a heavy-pressure situation. Imagine tying a victim with ropes, placing him on his back on the ground, and then placing a huge boulder on his chest. The boulder slowly crushes the life from him. This is the word picture that describes the emotional and mental suffering these believers were experiencing.

But in the midst of thlipsis, these believers knew joy. How is that possible? The Greek word for “joy” infers a supernatural gift of God’s grace. It has nothing to do with hilarity or giggles or raucous laughter. It has everything to do with experiencing a superhuman infilling of God’s power and presence and peace. They were walking out this realization, and they knew joy as a result.

Joy shines brightest in the dark. When we can’t see our way through a tough situation, joy is there for the asking. When weariness drains us dry, joy is ours if we want it. When burdens threaten to crush the life from us, joy is available as a supernatural gift of God’s grace.

Nothing can squelch the joy that is ours in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. Do we believe that? Do we live as though it’s true?

“Father, thank You for the joy that is ours no matter what our circumstances look like. Thank You for the supernatural gift of Your grace. When we feel overwhelmed, remind us that joy is ours for the asking because of Your presence and overcoming power in our lives. In Jesus’ s name, amen.”

#bgbg2 #devotions #TrueJoy

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