Have you ever been friends with someone who is always genuinely joyful? They always have a smile on their face and a kind word to say. Even if they are struggling through a difficult time their demeanor is peaceful and sure that they will get through it and be a stronger person from the experience. I've been thinking about this lately...it's really captured my attention! It's forced me to look at myself and ask "Am I always joyful?" I want to be salt and light to this world. I want to show them the hope of our Savior. However, if I groan and complain and act like whatever's happening to me shouldn't be happening to me, how am I showing them Christ? It's so easy to do. Matthew 7:13 and 14 (NRSV) says "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Some days when I would get up for massage therapy school all that would go through my mind is how tired I was and how I didn't want to work later that day. It was all negative and very ungrateful for the amazing life I have. I should be thanking the Lord for one more breath on the dawning of a new day! This is something I want to strive for - to be joyful always even in the hard times. It is SO easy to be joyful in the good times - so easy to thank God and think he's awesome. But I believe we all need to thank God in the hard times too and remember his goodness and promises. Here are some of his amazing promises to encourage you!
~Jeremiah 31:3b-4 ~ I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
~Ephesians 2:3-5~ All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved -
~Revelation 1:17-18~ When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
~Revelation 7:15-17~ For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship Him day and night within His temple, and the One who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
When I read these verses they give me such hope! Hope births joy. We have an Everlasting Hope so we will never be without the capacity to have joy. One of my favorite quotes goes like this: Life is hard and then you die. It's kind of pessimistic but it's just a fact and plainly stated. Although, I believe the author missed an important point! I would have put it like this: Life is hard and then you die but thank goodness for Jesus who loved us enough to save us from all this crap. :) Jesus never said being a follower of Him would be easy. But I think that without Him it would be more awful than we could imagine. I am so thankful for God. I look to Him for my example :
Hebrews 12:2 ~ Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
In Him is ultimate joy!