As I reread this verse during our last study, I thought, Joy and enduring a cross?!? Those don’t seem to go together at all. I was puzzled. I’d always heard the acronym:
But I rarely found joy in it. I mean, really, if that’s how you find joy, most mothers of toddlers should be brimming over, right?
As I read this verse over and over again, something clicked. The joy Jesus felt had nothing to do with his present circumstances and everything to do with his goal. There was no joy to be found in being humiliated, beaten, and hung on a cross. But the goal, the goal of finally being reunited with God for eternity. The goal of giving us all the chance to join him there and to live in relationship with him, even as we walked around down here, now those are things to be joyful about!
Seeing how Jesus found joy, even in the cross, made me realize how I, too, can find joy in my days. That is if I don’t only focus on what is in front of me but the goal at the end. Child needs a lot of times outs today? He’ll be more pleasant teenager and adult. Piles of laundry and dishes surrounding me? All this repeated service is growing my inner Spirit if I let it. A child’s inquisitive and independent spirit about to make me go crazy? Once molded, he’ll be a great visionary whose not easily influenced by others. I can find JOY in all of these circumstances if I keep the goal in mind.
Honestly this realization took a huge burden off my shoulders. For years I have been carrying around the Christian Joy and Peace guilt. I wondered if I was walking with God daily, and doing what I thought he wanted of me, why on earth did Joy and Peace elude me?!? I realized it’s because I was focused on the wrong thing. Joy and it’s counterpart Peace are rarely to be found in the present circumstances. If they are, then it is always fleeting. However, when we focus on Jesus and the end results of this journey, joy and peace can be found in the day to day, because we are no longer focusing on what is “seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).