Got Joy? Episode 5/5
As we have been studying Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi over the last month, we have learned that in the midst of uncertainty joy is possible. Paul referenced his own uncertainty about what was going to happen to him several times. We are living in uncertain times as well.
Paul experienced joy because of his friendships with the people in Philippi. We too can experience joy in our friendships with one another. Gratitude for our friends is a key component of joy.
How we handle uncertainty makes the difference. It is common for people to want, or even to expect, certainty, whether economically, politically, health, safety or relationally. When I was a college student studying hinduism, I remember being struck by the realization that in India, people were using ox cart wheels that were designed 4,000 years ago, yet their philosophy of life was that people live in constant flux. What struck me was the contrast with our own culture where we are adapting to a constant change of technologies and social structures, yet philosophically we strive for a static existence. One culture was changing very little yet they valued change. In our culture, everything is always changing and we desire things to stay the same. Perhaps this is an illustration of the reality that, as people, we want what we don’t have.
The anchor point that Paul had was the love that Jesus had for him expressed through people who loved him. Even as I write this, I can feel joy rising in me as I think about the people who love me as an expression of Christ’s own love for me. When we are anchored by Christ’s love demonstrated through our friends, we can weather any storm and have joy in the middle of it.
Stop for a moment and rather than thinking about what you want or what you don’t have, recognize what you do have. Do we really need more? Is being loved by God enough for us? What else can we want beyond what Jesus has done for us? As Paul said, what he once valued and desired, he now considers it all garbage compared to knowing Jesus.
My prayer for you is that you will clearly see the people who love you with Jesus’ love for you. Moreover, I pray for you that you are the friend through whom someone else sees Jesus’ love for them.