“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2).
I know someone who is always full of joy. This person is not rich, stunningly beautiful or famous. In fact, she is almost always in pain. Yet, she is joyful.
Wonderful circumstances do not necessarily bring joy.
Hard times and poverty do not necessarily bring despair.
I know sad rich people and happy poor people.
Paul says to rejoice in the Lord always. I was unimpressed with that statement until I realized that Paul was in prison when he wrote it. When you study the whole life of Paul, you learn that he was shipwrecked, beaten and imprisoned. He also knew times of peace and prosperity.
Paul says that both sides of life, the easy side and the difficult side, offer temptation. Therefore, joy is not based on a person’s life or circumstances.
Where does joy come from?
Paul discovered a secret. His deep personal relationship with Christ made it possible for him to literally be joyful in all circumstances. He was so confident that Christ would work everything out for his good. Paul could completely rejoice in that knowledge, even when events seemed to prove the opposite.
Joy is really a matter of trust. If we trust God and if we know He wants what is best for us, we can rejoice in all things, not because we are crazy, but because God is so good. He turns our mourning into dancing! (Psalm 30:11) In anticipation of that, we can have joy.
Kimberly Snider is a missionary to the Philippines.
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