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Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
There is a kind of joy that cannot be contained, that needs to be expressed, yet scripture tells us that this joy is so deep and profound, often we don’t have words to describe it.
This kind of joy is found in Christ, and in doing his bidding. Paul the apostle must have possessed this for as you read through the book of Philippians you see him not only expressing his joy, but continually challenging his followers at Philippi to be joyful. In the book of Philippians Paul speaks about joy over a dozen times. It seems that Philippi was a special place of joy for Paul. This is seen not only by his exhortation of the brethren, but also his unique experience that showed joy in a time of several trial. A reading of Acts 16 lets us know that, it was at Philippi that he was arrested along with his travelling companion Silas, and thrown into the deepest darkest dungeon. Yet despite the dismal outlook of their future they dug deep down into their hearts, into the well of joy that Christ’s love brings. We are told that at midnight, whilst everyone else in the prison was probably asleep, they could be heard praising God loudly, praying and singing hymns. Think about it. What did they have to sing about? They had already been publicly shamed, having been stripped naked and beaten, and then now heavily guarded in solitary confinement. Yet they found the strength to sing, and loudly at that. As they persevere in joyous praise to God, the impossible happen. There is a violent earthquake, the shackles on their feet break, and the prison doors open. Suddenly they are free to go.
This episode of manifestation of Joy is a picture of the power that our joy possesses. Nehemiah resounds that the “joy of the lord is his strength”. Thus Joy has the power to help us overcome any challenge we face. Can you imagine if Paul had been overcome with sorrow while in his cell? We wouldn’t have had a miracle to write about today.
Joy then is a powerful divine force that God instills in our heart at salvation. As we tap in to this joy through acknowledging the truth about God, strength rises up on the inside, allowing us to forge ahead through daunting situations. There is never a time not to be joyful.
Indeed elsewhere in scripture Paul tells us to “be joyful always” 1 Thessalonians 5:16. Whether its midday or midnight, we need to be joyful. When things are bright, sunny, and great, joy is appropriate. But as well when we face depression, stress, trauma, the cares of this life and even death. Our response should be as Paul to the Philippians
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
– Pastor Olu Jegede