Joy in Tough Times

Romans 8:38-39
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Recently, I was reminded of the practical truth of these verses when my uncle, my wife, and myself went to help and visit with a lady from our local church who was just released from the hospital and has been given two weeks to a month to live.  We went to help her move her old bed out of her apartment so that the medical company could deliver her hospital bed the next day.  We spent a good amount of time with that dear sister after we were finished just talking and actually being encouraged by one facing so much difficulty.  She also has a burden for many of her own family members who do not know Christ.  However, this sister was the happiest, most joyful person you’ll meet and so full of jokes and laughter.

I am reminded of John 15.  One of the seven “I Am” statements of Christ in the Gospel of John.  “I am the vine” is the message of the first part of John 15.  One of the keys to understanding the implications of John 15 is to remember that salvation is not a fruit bearing event.  In other words, Jesus was not talking about salvation here, He was talking about life after salvation.  One who has not been born again cannot bear fruit, but being born again does not mean you will bear fruit.  The point He was making was that He alone is the one who will spiritually sustain us but it is up to us if we want to be spiritually sustained.  Bearing fruit is the honor of one who continually does the will of God and “abides in Him.”  Bearing fruit is not an automatic right of Christians.  If we yield our life to Him, respond to the Spirit within us, and do His will then we will bear much fruit!  Why do I bring this up?  Because I think what He says after all of this is of utmost importance:

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

Where do we get real, sustaining joy?  From abiding in the vine! How do we abide in the vine?  By submitting our lives and wills to God!  I have been guilty in the past of looking at the options and knowing what God would have me to do but instead I go for the “instant pleasure” option.  Sure, I have a bit of happiness for a bit but the lasting, sustaining joy is not there.  I have sorrow of a wrong decision, maybe guilt of sin, or sadness for time wasted.  Had I went the way the Spirit was leading I would have abided in the vine and my joy would have been full.

So how does it all fit together?  Well, when I look at this sister who only has a few weeks of life remaining she told us of her ride to the hospital and witnessing to the EMTs, then telling the hospital staff about Christ, and no matter who came in to see her she did not spare the opportunity to tell them about her Savior.  Why? Because her joy was full from all of the time she has spent abiding in Him!  Her joy comes from the fact that she is constantly abiding in Him.  You can tell by the outflow of what she has to say about the one who has her affection.  When we love something we also love to tell others about it.  I love my wife so I happen to talk about her a lot.  She loves her Savior and she happens to talk about Him a lot.  They go hand in hand.

So when life throws curve balls and trials how does a Christian remain joyful?  By abiding in the true vine!  Hoes does one accomplish that?  First, by accepting Christ as your personal Savior because without the issue of sin being taken care of no fruit can be produced for God.  Sin is the cause of separation between God and man but we just celebrated Christmas which is the day we celebrate the birth of the only one who had the mission to die.  He died upon the cross for sin so that sinners could be made righteous.  He said “It is finished” and God was satisfied, are you?  When the relationship is established, the Spirit of God is given to dwell in you and obeying the will of God has the promise that you will yield fruit.  Doing His will brings the joy of serving one who died to save and it is in the vine we find that joy.

-Rob

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