Recently I had some challenges. The campus renovation program is moving quickly. The teacher candidate selection for Early Childhood/Preschool is narrowing as we make sure to get the right candidate (we know God has the person already in mind, but sometimes the wait is difficult). Basketball coaching responsibilities add to the week’s schedule and there seem to be more meetings than usual. For the first time since Christmas break, we actually had a full week of school.
Last Friday, I was standing with students at the end of the line for Preschool 4’s pick-up. I said to them, “I hope the teachers call my name. I hope my mom is here to take me home.” After some laughter (from the students and Preschool teachers!), one of the children asked, “Do you have a real mom in real life?” I replied, “Yes, I have a real mom in real life.” The response from the students was “Seriously?”
Though the week was long and tiring, with the asking of that one quick question, my whole week changed. With that one simple conversation, my demeanor changed. Up until that point, during the week I had struggled, and felt a bit void of joy. I know what the Bible says about joy: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2. In the midst of the week, it had been difficult to practice James 1:2.
The joy the world gives is not the same as the joy the Spirit gives. Worldly joy or happiness comes and goes as often as waves hitting the shore. It is not something we can cling to when we have lost a loved one or are facing bankruptcy. On the other hand, the Spirit’s joy or happiness stays with us for the long haul. For the believer, the fruit of the Spirit, including joy, is like a bottomless well of water—there’s always an abundant supply. Even in the darkest days, when sadness, grief, and loss may threaten to overwhelm us, God’s joy is there. We need to understand that God’s joy cannot be taken away. One might think that it is gone—that the hands of misfortune have snatched it from us—but it is not.
As believers, we are promised the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. We are promised His joy. Jesus’ words in John 15:11 are, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” We need to stop wallowing, whining, and complaining, and grab onto God’s joy. Just like salvation, joy is a free and perfect gift from Him, and we must reach out and accept that gift. We must grab onto it and choose joy over bitterness, anger, and sorrow. We must decide to choose joy every day. “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” 2 Corinthians 8:2-3.
Another example for us is given in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” God’s joy really is there. We can consider each trial joy, we can greatly rejoice with joy, inexpressible and full of glory, even when we feel like we are face-first in the mud puddle. We can endure whatever circumstances might be making us quake in our boots right now. If we have saved through faith in Jesus Christ, then we already have all that we need. Grab onto God’s joy. And if you find that it is too difficult to do so, take a few minutes to talk with a Preschooler, and you just mind find that joy to be easily obtainable.