Part of God’s will for us—a large part—is that we always rejoice and that we give thanks in everything. Paul states this directly in his first letter to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
While this is not easy to do, it is essential. Joy needs to become our “default” state. How do we get there?
What Joy Shall Be Ours!
I don’t know it all by any means. Just ask my friends and relatives whether they find joy flowing out from my heart, mind, mouth, and life every minute of every day. They will all say they don’t. I’m at the starting block when it comes to this particular race. Yet even from here I can see the finish line, and that is where we must begin.
We begin, as the second of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits states, “with the end in mind.” The first step to living out the joy-filled life that is God’s will for us is simply to recognize what the future holds. To run our lives, our “races,” successfully we need to see the finish line clearly. We need to know what our goal is. Just as importantly, we need to perceive the rewards for reaching that goal.
The Example of Our Savior
The author of Hebrews challenges us to be inspired by Jesus’ motivation:
… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) knew great sorrow and suffering, especially at the end of His life. Yet He managed to keep sight of the prize ahead: joy. Such profound and long-lasting joy lay before Him that He was willing to endure death by torture in order to reach that blissful state. May we indeed fix our eyes upon Him and follow in His footsteps and reach the same goal: eternal joy.
The hope of the righteous is gladness … (Proverbs 10:28a)
Can we conceive of an unbroken string of days and nights with no sorrow in them? Has your life so far given you more happy moments than sad ones?
What will it be like to serve God with gladness only and never with physical or emotional pain? Rejoice, brothers and sisters in Messiah! Eternal joy will be ours!
Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness. (Isaiah 35:10, NLT)
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, unless otherwise noted. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Bolding and italics mine. Brackets mine, added for clarity and emphasis. Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.