“The fruit of The Spirit is…joy.” Galatians 5:22-23
Joy is grace under fire. There is a strong etymological bond, in the Greek language, between joy and grace. In English they don’t seem to have any family resemblance, but in God’s love language, they are more than kissing cousins. They are inseparably joined to one another in a reciprocal relationship that only the love of God can create, and sustain in the lives of His children.
People of joy never get over God’s love. Their perspective on life, and their response to it are evidence of the connection between joy and grace. Joy is the fruit of an over-riding confidence in God’s Presence rooted in the unmerited favor of God’s grace.
Without The Spirit’s genuine, consistent expression of joy in the life of the believer, the grace race becomes a frantic rat race. Packs of preachers and people pouring out of pulpits and pews without joy and grace provide little hope to hurting people who already feel like speed bumps in the rat race of life.
Joy is not a result of the absence of disappointment. It is the proper response to it. Joy is not a temporary relief of anxiety that comes from being saturated by the entertainment industry, or medicated by the pharmaceutical industry. It is not rooted in denial. It is the fruit of trial. Life can be messy, and joy is up for the challenge, no mater what.
When life gets destructive, joy is reflective, not speculative. Joy reflects on The Presence of God in the middle of the crisis. It doesn’t wasted time speculating on why the crisis has happened.
Joy rises in the heart of a child of God in direct proportion to they face the crisis. Prayer puts God’s children in direct contact with the Creator of the universe, not the initiator of the crisis. The child of God is fluent in prayer. Even a groan can be interpreted by The Spirit, when it is offered in prayer to The Father in The Name of Jesus.
What does joy look like, and what value does it have in a world plagued by evil? Joy is a reflection, not a reaction. When a crisis hits, joy rises above it to find a solution without wallowing in the pollution.
When America was attacked, by the Japanese forces at Pearl Harbor, in December 1941, the naysayers and doomsdayers were in full voice. Those charged with responding to the attack faced it with confidence. Without despair, clear minds reflected on what had happened. Without ignoring the disaster, they found hope in it.
The American military leadership observed that the attackers had been successful, but they had also been negligent. They had failed to knock out the dry dock facilities of the port. Therefore the means to raise the sunken ships was immediately available. The enemy had launched their attack on a Sunday morning. By doing so, the vast majority of the personnel had been on shore leave. The attack did not destroy the trained personnel and manpower needed to initiate the recovery of the fleet. The reverse was true. They survivors of the attack were alive and highly motivated. Perhaps most importantly, the Japanese attack had done what no other American politician had been able to do. In an instant, the
American people were galvanized to respond. This attack unified them to declare war, and wage it with all the means at their disposal.
The leaders of the response to the attack had an over-riding confidence in the face of an undeniable disaster. They were able to perceive that all was in place and in order for a
complete victory and the absolute surrender of the enemy. It is in this context that joy is the esprit de corps of a powerful army filled with confidence in their victorious King, and mobilized to be a part of His mission.
Joy is not kid’s play, but it reveals the child at heart. Children place their confidence in those who love them the most, and take on life with an abandon and a confidence based on the resources of their parents, not their own.
The early church was filled with joy. This was no giddy, temporary emotion that ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of fickle fortune. Joy was their over-riding confidence in spite of constant intimidation and threatened annihilation.
Their joy was greater than any force of nature, and became the identifying mark of believers from the gladiators' arena in Rome to the personal persecution meted out in the most remote village of the empire. Joy was the esprit de corps of this new body of believers. When they faced the press of evil on them, joy came pouring out of their lips along with the blood of their bodies and the tears of their eyes. They loved God with all their hearts, and loved one another with every fiber of their being. They had no death wish to part this life earlier than God intended, but held onto it with a light touch, knowing that the best was yet to come.
Joy avoids passion of the wild at heart, and pablum of the mild at heart, by maintaining the expectancy of a child at heart. May the church rediscover this kind of joy, and pray for more of it. It is contagious, when released in a world that has substituted entertainment for joy, until they are bored with the former and void of the latter. Hold onto Jesus, and hold out for joy. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!