Sure, there are daily challenges in my life. The kids have been off school way too much lately. The girls are constantly at each other. My husband has been working a ton of hours. The weather has been cold and the skies grey. The house seems to be constantly in need of picking up. There are a dozen things that are less than perfect in my life (okay, maybe more), but there is another side to this story. I have children who are healthy, bright and energetic. They are all strong enough to speak their minds. My husband has a really great job and is a wonderful provider. While I definitely prefer the warmth and sunshine, I am sitting right now under a warm blanket in front of a roaring, beautiful fire. And my "messy" house? I have a house. I have things that are sometimes scattered about. I have dirty dishes and laundry which testifies to the fact that I have food in our home and clothes for our bodies.
Paul shares in the book of Philippians that a man can experience great suffering and joy at the same time. As he is in chains, his only crime sharing the gospel message, he continues to experience joy and spread it's message. As I read Phillipians 2:14-18, I was humbled this morning. Paul says this:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
I hardly do everything without grumbling or arguing. Grumbling has been a huge part of my life the past few weeks. It may have started with a sigh, a word, but it has grown into a mood. A grumbling, argumentative mood. My child disobeys, I grumble. My husband says something I don't like, I argue. At this point the poor man just breathes wrong and I am irritated. Most of us are challenged finding joy in the really tough times. I get that. Your child has cancer, someone you love passes away, you are in an abusive marriage....all of these things challenge us greatly in the area of joy. We are called to have joy in all things. Paul was able to find joy even when he was beaten and in chains. So what is this joy? Surely it doesn't mean being happy. Who is happy while being beaten? What then could it be?
As I searched the internet for some definition of joy that would answer my question, I kept coming across happiness. I am sure it as not as simple as that. I then came across a blog by a man name Sherman Nobles and he had this to say:
The lights came on and I understood what joy is. Joy is an abiding sense of happiness! It’s a bright, sunshine-filled emotional pattern of happiness—the Tigger-syndrome. Though there might be moments or seasons of sadness, even these are tempered with a confident expectation that the sun will soon return piercing the darkness caused by the passing clouds. Joyful people are typically happy. They smile and laugh a lot. Joy is the result of hope, faith, and love! Joyful people often smile and seem to breeze through difficult situations. They see problems as opportunities. The glass might be almost empty, but the joyful person will be thankful for the little they have, enjoy it thoroughly, and not fear it running out! (http://theologica.ning.com/profiles/blogs/joy-is-not-happiness)
Yes! This is a really great explanation of joy. Paul couldn't have been smiling through a beating saying "this is great!". Jesus asked God to take from him the coming beating, crucifixion and separation from God, but all according to His will. What they seem to have that I often lack is an ability to see past current circumstances and into the hope of what is to come. Even to the point of death, they both knew that there was joy in tomorrow. They held onto the hope, whether tomorrow meant a day on Earth or tomorrow meant an eternity with the Father.
My prayer for myself and for you today is that we might find true joy in our daily lives. The moment may not be happy, but I pray that I have the mindset and attitude of joy. I need to begin in my home. Most people would probably describe me as joyful, but to those in my home, I am less than that many, many times. May God grant me a spirit and attitude of joy, pulling those I love up, living daily with the hope that is to come and pointing everyone I come across to Jesus. I know no other way to achieve this than to spend time with the Giver of joy daily through prayer and His Word. Let's be joyful! Let's be Tiggers!!