|Doesn’t look exactly joyful does he?
I struggle internally with doing a series on JOY. Because let’s face it, a quick search of the internet will prove that JOY is a chick word (like a chick flick). You’ll find daisies, flowers, starbursts, all kinds of wonderful estrogen filled and testosterone destroying pictures to represent joy. Not once do you find a barbarian wielding an axe or a muscled up athlete crushing the opponent or anything remotely approaching adrenaline.
Here’s the most masculine “joy” picture I found. REALLY? A guy doing some kind of little cheer leader bounce on the beach? That’s joy?
You do that around me on the beach, I’m running the other way!
That’s just ridiculous.
So I began thinking about joy. The joy the Bible talks about – I think we sometimes misunderstand it. First of all it’s differentiated from happiness. Happiness is that here and gone feeling. “I’m happy because I got a new car. I’m sad because it got a scratch.” “I’m happy I’m eating a giant hot fudge sunday. I’m sad because it made me fat.” Happiness goes up and down and is based on circumstances.
Joy is based on trust in the One over the circumstances.
Paul writes one letter that was his most joyful – Philippians. In it, he talks about his joy and his recipients’ joy. And Paul is no lover of daisies. He’s more of a “Red Bull” kind of man.
Red Bull sponsors all kinds of “extreme” and “tough” sports. Paul was an “extreme’ and “tough” guy. He went into towns, preached. Got beat up. Picked himself up. Went back. Got whipped, put in jail, sang all night. Went out on the high seas, shipwrecked, floated around the sea for a few days and nights, went to another town, started a new church.
|Not this kind of Viper.
|Paul was gathering firewood (Acts 28) – a viper grabs ahold of his hand!! And it hangs on!! He shakes it off into the fire.
Paul is a “shake it off” kind of guy.
What do I mean by a “shake it off” kind of guy? My football coach in high school was a shake it off kind of guy. Here’s what I mean:
Me: Coach, my thumb just got bent back to my wrist and it’s swelling up like a grapefruit.
Coach: Shake it off.
Me: My knee got hit and now it sounds like rice krispies when I walk.
Coach: Shake it off.
Me: But coach, I just got hit so hard from behind that my right eyeball shot out of the socket and rolled for a first down.
Coach: Shake it off.
Paul was mentally tough, but not because he was practicing mind over matter. Paul was mentally tough, because he had absolute assurance that God was in control. And that assurance – gave him great joy. He didn’t have joy because of good circumstances, he had joy because he trusted God over the circumstances.
Happiness is the result of the circumstance, joy is the result of trusting
the One over the circumstance. Who are you going to trust?
The book of Philippians is written by Paul, from jail. Because he’s a Roman citizen, he’s probably held in a room of the Praetorian Guard. But he’s always chained to a Roman soldier.
If found guilty, he could be thrown into the underground dungeons until the next gladiator games. Then he’d be stripped bare, and put in the arena with the other criminals. Wild beasts who have been starved for 2 days so they’d be hungry and furious, would be released to kill and eat the prisoners.
That’s a horrific circumstance! And it’s from that horrific circumstance that Paul writes…the book of Joy – Philippians. Because he’s not trusting in the circumstances, he’s trusting in the God over the circumstances!
All of that to say, rather than some cheesy hallmark card picture, I think an appropriate picture for joy would be (if we have to use a flower) a daisy, growing in the midst of the grey waste of nuclear winter. Nothing will grow, radiation is everywhere, death and destruction fill the senses, everything is dead – and in the midst of death, up grows a daisy. That would be a good picture of God’s joy. Joy in spite of the circumstances, trusting the Lord over all circumstances. Who are you going to trust?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
(if my grammar is bad it will be updated shortly)