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“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5, NKJV).
How’s it been going, my friend? Have you been enjoying some childlike moments with Jesus, even during the hard times our world is facing? His words to us on the subject bear repeating: If we want to enter into the fullness of the kingdom of heaven; if we want to enter into joy, we need to change and become increasingly like children. We need to let Holy Spirit mature us into childlikeness. Today we are going to talk about one more delightful result of this change process in our lives. It’s this: The more His joy grows in our spirits, the less room fear has to occupy on the inside of us.
We’ve been discussing how growing in joy is a fundamental aspect to our development as disciples of Jesus. Take a look at this wonderful verse on the matter: “And then you will never be shaken or intimidated by the opposition that rises up against us, for your courage will only prove as a sure sign from God of their coming destruction and that you have found a new life” (Phil. 1:28, TPT). We learn from this Scripture that courage is a “sure sign” of the new life we are walking in from God. The more we grow up in this new joyful life from Him, the more courageous we will be… the more unshakable… the more free from intimidation… and the more fearless.
Fearlessness and joy are inextricably related to each other. Notice that this verse comes from the book of Philippians, which is easily the most joyful book of the New Testament. Writing from prison, Paul is full of joy, and full of courage. Unshaken and unintimidated, he encourages us to walk in this way as well.
As we learn to walk in the victory that Jesus purchased for us at the cross, joyful courage will mark our lives more and more. The fruit of joy will take up so much room in our spirits that it dislodges fear and worry. Those negative emotions simply will have less and less of our inner space to occupy. This absolutely terrifies our spiritual enemies! As this verse explains to us, our joyful fearlessness is a sure sign of their impending destruction.
Yet, the intentional practice of joy must be continual. The enemy tries so hard to steal our joy. This is because of how petrifying it is to him when a Christian learns to live in supernatural joy. He certainly does not want to be constantly reminded of his eternal doom. So he fights against our joy with everything he’s got. This is the reason that many times, we must contend for our contentment.
The battle for our joy frequently becomes intense. The cares of this fallen world regularly affect our souls. One of the things that often weighs on us the most is our concern for those that we love. Paul himself, super apostle of joy, candidly admitted experiencing this himself, saying, “Besides all this, there is on me every day the load of my concern for all the churches. I feel weak every time someone is weak, and I feel upset every time someone is led into sin” (2 Cor. 11:28-29, NCV).
These were Paul’s kids he was talking about. He carried the heavy emotional weight of concern for their wellbeing. “I feel upset,” he expressed frankly. Other Bible translations of these three words reveal the original Greek phrase Paul used: “I inwardly burn.” This was some profoundly disturbing concern he was experiencing. It felt like a fire inside of him.
Paul was human just like the rest of us. He had emotions, just like we all do. A littler earlier in the book of 2 Corinthians, he also voiced this: “…We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Cor. 7:5, NKJV). Yes. This mighty man of God had to fight fear. How comforting it is to know that he also had battles like ours on his journey further into spiritual maturity! You and I are not alone in our struggles.
Even so, we learn from his writings how joyful he was during his periods of very real struggle. In this same passage of Scripture, he asserted, “in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds” (2 Cor. 7:4, NIV). It was in the context of such suffering that God was developing the fruit of joy deeper and deeper in him. As he cooperated with the Spirit’s change process in his life, he “discovered the secret” for contentment and joy (Phil. 4:11-12, NLT). Holy Spirit had trained him to cast his concerns on the Lord. In prayer, Paul had learned to habitually exchange his burdens for peace. He had learned to contend for contentment.
As we finish this up today, let’s take in these invaluable words from the Book of James: “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!” (James 1:2, TPT). I need to share with you that, during Lily’s hospitalization last year, this was one of the key verses that Holy Spirit kept bringing up to me. “Consider it pure joy,” He kept saying. As you can imagine, I was not feeling joyful at that time.
Looking back on that painful season, I have come to understand something about this Scripture. Holy Spirit is inviting us to fix our eyes on the joy set before us during times of anguish, like Jesus did. What we are walking through right now is developing the unspeakably precious fruit of joy in our lives. We are growing up into the maturity of joyful, unshakable courage. Look how this passage continues: “For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking” (vv. 3-4).
As we contend for contentment, even in the darkest of nights, joy is growing on the inside of us. Holy Spirit’s power is at work in every part of our being. He is determined to bring us to that glorious place where nothing is missing and nothing is lacking. He is on a sacred mission to fill us with the joy that will displace every last one of our fears. To consider our trials as pure joy is to hold onto this bedrock assurance until the hours of darkness have passed.
Dear one, you and I can be absolutely certain of this. If we are enduring a night of weeping, we can cast our cares on the One who cares for us more than His own life. In prayer, we can give Him all of our troubles. In return, He will pour into us His supernatural peace and strength. So let’s do it. Let’s contend for contentment, and fix our eyes on what’s up ahead. Look! Do you see it there on the horizon? It’s joy. Pure joy is coming in the morning!
How is your journey into joy coming along? In what ways can you see Holy Spirit at work developing this fruit in your life?