Have you often thought about what gives you joy –genuine joy? Not superficial happiness, like a well-cooked meal, a visit to a family member or a trip to a theatre. But a deep-seated, abiding joy that wells up inside you and is present even when times are hard. Finding joy in the midst of hardship is a difficult pursuit.
We will all experience hardships in life at one time or another: the loss of a home, the loss of a job, financial difficulties, health issues, or family dramas. Daily life seldom runs smoothly. If it does, it’s a blessing and a bonus. But some people seem to be given cup-fulls of trouble in their lives, far more troubles than others.
How is it that these are the very people who appear to have absolute joy in their lives, despite the daily difficulties they have to face?
Family members, church friends and even strangers may give you advice and strategies to cope when you are facing more than your fair share of hardship. Consider Job’s friends constantly badgering him about his lack of faith. But the secret of coping with hardship generally does not lie in the ‘world’s’ lap…it lies in help from God.
Scripture is full of encouraging verses to help grow your Christian faith. Hardship, in fact, may be the very thing that will help your personal growth. When you are faced with trouble in this world, instead of caving in, read your bible daily, pray more, and depend to a greater extent on God rather than men. Learn some of those beautiful bible verses off by heart, repeat them as mantras, and send flash prayers up to God when the heat is on, and you don’t have time to pray properly.
Even though you are experiencing hard times, your spirit is soaring as you remember how much your Father has done for you. How much he loves you. How much he has sacrificed for you. You can’t help feeling joyful when you feel his presence. You know that he is with you and holding you in his strong arms. That he won’t let go of you. This is absolute joy in the midst of hardship.
You are family. You are part of the Christian community. You are God’s child. He will care for you, protect you, guide you. You need to stay close to him, reading his word and praying to him regularly. Then, whatever hardship you are experiencing, a deep joy will be welling up in your heart. As a child of God, you have the privilege of being in a large, extended family – all those who believe in the Christian faith all around the world. How can this not make you feel joy?
Jesus warned us that we would experience trouble in this world, but he also promised us that if we believe in him and do his Father’s will, we can look forward to a better world in the future.
Jesus’ promises are trustworthy. He will not fail us. He told us that he would take his followers to be with him. That we can look forward to a better heavenly country where we will be with him forever. So any hardship we are experiencing now pales into insignificance in the light of our future inheritance. Faith in your future will give you deep-seated contentment and inner joy, a joy that no one can take away from you.
If you want to experience absolute joy in this life, make a conscious effort to draw closer to Jesus, to do his will by sharing your joy with the broader Christian community, thereby honouring his name and giving God all the glory.