Good news is I survived the kidney stones one more round. Prayerfully it is a long time till I get one again.
So the topic of the week for the Sunday sermon? Aye you got it; Joy! I am preaching through the ‘Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, ...”
Love was well preached a few weeks ago, kidney stone hits and I have to say, nothing happy about that. But in the midst of it there was still joy. Why? How? I’m not saying it was easy, but it was the right way to live.
Jonathan Edwards said this: “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.
“Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
The problem for finding joy is people say things like: “You don’t know my life. You just don’t know how hard my life is and how miserable the things going on are. I’m not loved by others. I hurt. I ache. I have just gotten bad news. I have a sickness that is going to kill me. Or worse - My friend, lover, wife/husband/child has incurable ______________. I’m broke. I don’t have enough ____________ ... So how dare you tell me to be joyful?”
Joy is listed right after Love, so it must be important, it must be something that can be achieved, a learned way of living. Joy is a positive human condition that can be either feeling or action. The Bible uses joy in both senses.
So living in pain for a week and enduring the aftermath is not creating the feeling of Joy, or what we more commonly call Happiness. Our happiness is affected by our circumstances and sickness and death and horrible stuff happening make so one can’t just say ‘Be happy’. I know the song but it just doesn’t work in the face of bad news.
But there is that inner joy that comes as we walk in the Spirit as Galatians 5:25 tells us. This kind of joy is commanded it is an active kind of joy, a joy that comes by choice as we walk in the Spirit. Paul told the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”
A direct command that requires obedience. I promise you, that it is not easy when the pain is so bad on a Saturday and Sunday night that you call NHS 24 to come give you something, anything, for that pain and even as a minister you want to use sweary words because it hurts and they have been too long getting to you. (I will say in the end they were great).
That is when the true joy has to kick in and you remind yourself that it could be worse. It comes in knowing that perhaps others need to know that I suffer just like they do so they know I can relate to their trials...
Oh even in pain this could get fun.