From Paul’s Pen

            Except for the rise in COVID cases, the New Year seems to be off to a good start. Now it is up to us to make it a joyful one! Oh, I know we’re all affected by inflation, higher energy costs, higher taxes, and a host of other irritants. We all have things in our lives which cause anxiety and worry. But a Christian’s joy is not determined by earthly circumstances.

            I like the way someone described joy: “It is closely related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice.”[1] Joy is based upon our relationship with God and His Son and the blessings we enjoy as His children and citizens of His kingdom. Why shouldn’t we be joyful with the assurance of an eternal home in heaven?

            Joy is included in the fruit of the Spirit as recorded in Galatians 5:22 and is something we must cultivate. It doesn’t come naturally just as surely as loving one’s enemies is hard work. The apostle Paul taught us much about being joyful in the harshest of times. From a Roman prison, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4; NKJV) Even our Lord’s brother offered this exhortation: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)

            Let us each determine to be joyful no matter what life brings and, in the process, spread joy to those around us. The more we learn to be joyful, the more we’ll be able to praise our Lord and Savior!

            Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,

            God of glory, Lord of love;

            Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,

            Opening to the sun above.

            Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

            Drive the dark of doubt away;

            Giver of immortal gladness,

            Fill us with the light of day!

[1] Heyink, B. (2016). Joy. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.