I spoke with someone today who was having a bad day.
We all have bad days from time to time.
It’s a part of life in a fallen world.
I once heard a preacher say, “Happiness shows up when expected, but joy shows up whenever it wants.”
Happiness shows up at birthday parties, weddings, when you get a raise, when you get a good parking space, you pick the quickest check-out line at the grocery store, when your favorite team wins, and when your wife makes stuffed shells.
But, joy can show up at the strangest times. Joy can show up while you’re watching your kids playing on the playground, or while you’re eating at your desk and your eyes land on a picture of your spouse, or while you’re listening to a sermon, or while you’re not listening to a sermon, or when you’re at a funeral, or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam.
Joy shows up whenever it wants to, because joy is not an emotion. Joy is not dependent on our emotions for its existence. Joy is an attitude that knows everything is going to be ok because God is in charge.
The Apostle Paul loved the Christians in Philippi. As he starts his letter to them he writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3). Paul uses a form of the word, “joy,” thirteen times in Philippians, at one point even referring to them as, “my joy” (Phil. 4:1).
Their lives were not easy. They were living during a time of persecution and Paul didn’t want them to be surprised when they faced problems. In fact, he writes, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of God not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil. 1:29 emphasis mine).
We are going to suffer. Suffering is one of the consequences of life and a gift from God that breaks our allegiance to this world and makes us long for Heaven. Suffering, even “granted” suffering, is no excuse to be unjoyful.
To persecuted Christians. To suffering Saints. To any Christian who is stuck in traffic, or a bad marriage, or a bad job, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” And then he repeats it for emphasis: “Rejoice!”
God is good even when your day is bad.
God is faithful even when your spouse is not.
God is strong even when your body is weak.
God is kind even when hate is all you feel.
God is merciful even when you feel condemned.
God is still on His throne (Ps. 11:4) even though you feel like your world is out of control.
Remember this . . . and joy will arrive to spend some time with you.