I have been reading about Paul’s joy in the book of Corinthians. His joy was alive and thriving amidst unbearable suffering. I am not that strong. Paul wasn’t either. He depended wholeheartedly on Jesus. We may have some pretty dire circumstances, but Jesus says that:
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12 NIV
In the chapters surrounding these verses, Jesus was preparing His disciples to live without Him, because He was going to the cross. I can imagine they were scared and sad. He tells them to keep His commands and remain in His love and thereby, His full joy. Not joy that fills them partially, not joy that depends on emotion, and not joy that we can find ourselves. Jesus told the disciples where and how to be filled with His joy so they would be complete. In 2Corinthians, something was threatening Paul’s joy. He had a “thorn in the flesh” that he wanted taken away. When he asked Jesus three times to remove it, Jesus told him,
“My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8a NIV
I love His response to being told “no” by Jesus:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8b-10 NIV
He readjusts his reasoning since he can’t have what he wants. It is like he said to himself…”Okay then, if Jesus won’t change my circumstance, I will change my thinking. Jesus enough for me. If He allows this suffering, then I will boast of His power to get me through it!” Paul found the way to be joyful. It wasn’t by getting what He wanted, but by readjusting his focus and realizing:
Weakness is an opportunity to boast of the strength of the Lord! Trials are opportunities!
One more verse about enduring trials. This verse in James tells us to persevere so that we mature. Jesus always does things fully, completely, eternally, perfectly. He wants us to mature. We need trials to do that. I love this verse in James:
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV
Thank You for Your plan. We tell You that all the time, but the joy that comes from it keeps making us say it. We want to live a life of joy, knowing that we can only do that with Your power and strength in us. Your grace really is sufficient! Live in us and give us so much of You that the world will notice and want You. Despite our trials, we will rejoice in Your plan for us. because we trust You! We love You so much! Amen
GROWwork: Think of your trials. How would Jesus want you to see them? How can you share with others how He is helping you? Look for opportunities. But first, go straight to God’s Word and seek His wisdom and voice. He is ever present and never wrong:)
Love and prayers to all of you!