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by Sandy Fields
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3 NIV)
Webster might not define happiness and joy with much difference, but it makes sense that there are different levels of emotion for these words. Maybe because we use the word happy more often in our language, its easy for me to give joy the more special meaning. Anyway, Ive easily adopted two different emotions for these words. Happiness is just the light feeling you get from seeing something funny, having a day when everything seems to be going your way, when you develop your film and all the photos turned out great, and the shoes you wanted happened to be on sale at half price. Joy is something deeper to me. The feeling that all is well, no matter what the day is like joy runs deeper than circumstance for me. Its that conviction that this earth and my trials on it are only temporary and I rest in the faith that nothing can separate me from the love of God that is mine in Christ.
I ran my first marathon last year. A whole year I trained for the 26 mile monster. That last mile was total agony for my body. My legs kept cramping from the knees down; both of them at the same time. I would hobble over to the closest thing to hang onto and just try to stretch them out. When people would speak to me, I couldnt say anything back without crying the words. I wasnt crying from pain, but from sheer exhaustion. While the onlookers had been smiling and cheering all through the course, at this point they were looking at me with pity, trying to give me encouraging words with sincere faces.
As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds onto us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the JOY that was waiting for Him, He thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and He is now seated at the right side of Gods throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
There are plenty of things on this earth that can produce happiness. But pure joy, well that is produced by the Spirit. Its deep and heartfelt. Its constant, even when were going through unhappy trials in our life. I think its the emotion we can enjoy at all times when we know that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
Because Jesus poured His Spirit into my life, I have His joy... even in that last mile of my worst marathons!
Author: Sandy Fields
Publication Date: September 6, 2002
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