A Reason to Celebrate

April 2014: A Word From Dr. Stanley

Have you ever thought about the many emotions we experience during Easter? On Good Friday, we feel grief and heartache at Christ’s suffering and death, but Resurrection Sunday bursts on the scene and fills us with gratitude, hope, and joy.

If you ask for a definition of “joy,” a non-Christian might describe how he feels when he’s happy. Although the two words seem synonymous, they’re actually very different. Happiness is the feeling we have when something good takes place or life is going the way we’d like. But joy is something we experience regardless of our circumstances. That’s because it flows from knowing Christ.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for all of us to enter into a relationship with God. But there’s more. To everyone with faith, the Father also sends His indwelling Spirit, who produces the fruit of joy in our lives (Gal. 5:22). It’s not something we can manufacture; it’s the result of growing intimacy with the Savior. Then, as our understanding of Him increases, so does our delight.

Joy is something we experience regardless of our circumstances, because it flows from knowing Christ.

If Jesus is the object of our affection, we can’t help but rejoice. And when the world looks at Christians, it’s important that they see the gladness in our hearts, because they will be drawn to it. However, the Lord never intends for our joy to be limited to happy occasions like Resurrection Sunday. He wants it to be evident in us every day. Although troubles may come one right after the other, our relationship with Jesus will never cease. Even when circumstances seem to steal our peace, He’s still with us.

There is a way to rejoice no matter what you’re going through. First of all, focus on Christ, not your situation. Consider all He’s done for you and choose to praise Him. You’ll be amazed how this will lift your spirits. Second, surrender to His will for your life. You may not like your circumstances, but realizing the sovereign Lord has promised to work them for your benefit will allow your joy to return.

If you are going through a hard time right now, hold onto the words of Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Just as Easter Sunday followed Good Friday, a confident peace will come in due time. Wait for it. You’ll see.

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22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

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