James 1:2 Consider (command w/ official authority) it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
Welcome To The Light-Washed Path,
Joy occurs when faith exerts itself over circumstances. That is the key to gladness. It’s not waiting for favorable circumstances, but rejoicing because you already have favor with God in the midst of your circumstances. You REJOICE then you ARE glad. Thats how it works.
Psa. 40:16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee…
But HOW does one do that in the middle of life’s trying times, particularly when you are surrounded by unhappiness and drowning in bad news??! Admittedly, it takes a certain level of spiritual maturity, great discipline and focus to rejoice in the midst of trials and temptations. But as difficult as it may seem, every Christian can do it, and must learn to do it, if we are to survive the world, much less, overcome it.
Lets begin by admitting that most days we don’t find a lot to rejoice over in our surroundings. And a good deal of the time joy seems almost impossible or even inappropriate, when taken in consideration with your circumstances. In short, we can’t look for the source, or beginning point of joy, in our surroundings. We must look elsewhere for the joy that God is speaking about in His Word: the joy that takes command over trials and temptations. So what is the starting point of joy? For the answer let’s consider Davids 27th Psalm:
Psa. 27:3 Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.
Psa. 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to meditate in His temple.
Psa. 27:5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
Psa. 27:6 And NOW my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me; And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Psa. 27:7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.
Psa. 27:8 When Thou didst say, Seek My face, my heart said to Thee, Thy face, O LORD, I shall seek.
Psa. 27:9 Do not hide Thy face from me, Do not turn Thy servant away in anger; Thou hast been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
Psa. 27:10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the LORD will take me up.
Psa. 27:11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD, And lead me in a level path, Because of my foes.
Psa. 27:12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.
Psa. 27:13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
David said that NOW, in the very day of trouble, I will lift up rejoicing to God, which would result in my deliverance. But how did he know what to say to God. Or a better question would be, how do YOU rejoice in the very hour of your trial? How do you know what to say when everything seems so negative? Where do you begin and what do you rejoice about, when YOU are surrounded by unhappy and uninspiring circumstances?
The Starting Point
David drops a key in verse 13 when he says: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”
THERE is your starting point! Joy is completely dependent upon the Truth. And by the Truth, Im referring to God’s covenant Word to you. For example, Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. That is the Truth. Without Truth, joy cannot exist. Whatever other type of feeling of gladness that might arise, it’s merely a fragile puff of emotion, waiting to be blown away by the next shift in life’s winds. But true joy is a force of the Spirit of God, that is not subject to the winds of circumstance.
Joy begins, not with a feeling of happiness, but with a change of mental focus, a shift from considering the circumstances to remembering God’s Word of promise. Joy begins with recollection. Before joy is ever a feeling it begins as a thought, a remembrance.
Psa. 63:5-6 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips: when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches.
The Christian who wants to be an overcomer MUST learn the Word of God. Otherwise you will never have any basis for joy. The Word of God is joy’s resource. It is from the Truth of the Word that joy arises. In other words, we rejoice in the Truth, not in our circumstances. When temptations try you, it’s remembering the goodness of God and His Word of promise to you that introduces the beginning element of joy.
Psa. 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember you
Trials and temptations are like a great spiritual fog that rolls in over your life and obscures your vision of God and His goodness towards you. The facts of God’s Word become obscured by the immediacy of your trials.Through the filter of the fog your vision is affected, everything is hazy and nothing is enjoyable. But the commanding influence of joy, over that fog, begins with remembering that the Sun is shining above you, even though you can’t see it at the moment. The Truth reaches out through your thoughts, beyond the dimensions of your trial, and recalls the reality of God’s goodness, even though you don’t see it at the moment. The fog of trial shrinks your world to what you can see within the dim haziness of your circumstances. But the Light of Truth is in your heart and knows that God has more for you than what you presently see. This is the first step in joy. Before you can begin to rejoice you must first remember…remember what it is that you have reason to rejoice over. Recalling the goodness and greatness of God, that lies beyond what you see, is step one. And for this you must know His Word.
Tomorrow well take another step in learning how to use joy to overcome your circumstances. So until then…
Stay On The Path!