I’ve been thinking alot about joy recently as I’m studying through the book of Philippians.
What’s got me particularly thoughtful is Paul’s perspective on the source of joy. He seems to make it pretty clear early on in the book that being alive here on earth is all about Christ and his own death would be gain. You can’t get much greater extremes than life and death. But he rejoices still because his greatest joy in life isn’t anchored on circumstances that someone else can control; he knows that true and lasting joy will come after this life is over.
So that perspective—that faith—acts as an anchor, wedged solidly against the rocks on the ocean floor. The storms above the surface may toss the vessel violently, but there is an overall fixedness to it’s position. And it is exactly that fixedness that makes sense out of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5: “Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
The joy is not found in the here and now satisfaction. Sure, we catch glimpses of it now and again; but when it evades us as it so often does, we are not wrecked on a sea of despair. We are able to stay afloat because our joy is much broader in scope, looking well beyond the valley of the shadow of death into that bright, blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.