Monday, February 16, 2009

Joy, a Fruit of the Spirit

Yesterday my husband and I passed by many abandoned businesses, doors shut down probably as a result of the slowing and near collapse of the economy. It caused me to really think about those who have experienced the crushing blow of losing a job and/or business.

Is it really possible to have joy when we are faced with daunting challenges? After all, you don't have to look far to see the cold reality of war, financial hardships, violence, sickness and death. It's as close as the news, your neighbors, and maybe even a quick glance in the mirror. So, are we really expected to count it all joy in the midst of all the pain, loss, and heartache?

John 15:11 says, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

This verse is powerful because we cannot experience true joy aside from abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ. His joy should reside in us so that our joy can be fulfilled, and joy is a destination only obtainable through God's loving grace and mercy. It's not a feeling or state of being that's based on our circumstances or predicted outcome. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, accessible to those who have received and embraced the gift of faith.

As believers, our union with Christ causes us to bear fruit that is at many times diametrically opposed to how our flesh would respond to a situation. We may feel pain and sorrow, but we have an inexplicable joy because we trust that God is sovereign and in control. We may not understand it all, but we are connected to the One who does.

When we are bearing the fruit of joy, we can see the good in the most adverse circumstances. We can peel back the layers of pain and heartache and recognize God's divine work at hand. We know the problems and pain exist and are real, BUT we are anchored in the rock. No matter what it looks like, He holds us and orchestrates our lives. Nothing is by accident, and for these reasons and others, we can produce joy, an awesome by-product of abiding in the true vine.

Yes, we can--experience joy in the midst of whatever trial comes our way. We won't sink too low when we're down, and on the flip side, we won't get too high and mighty when we're up. We see through different lenses when we are in relationship with him. We are in consistent relationship with the One who clarifies our purpose and gives us joy that cannot be paralleled with any other short term satisfaction the world may offer.

When we love Him, we love one another, and when we love one another, He gives us joy. What could be easier or better than that?

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