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Even when tragedy strikes, joy can be present

Rev. Elaine Ruth • Mar 24, 2020 at 10:15 AM

Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.

I remember how thrilled I was when I got my first bicycle. I was 5 years old. My dad taught me to ride it, and pretty soon the training wheels came off. I rode up and down the driveway in front of our house. I was so proud of that bike. But pretty soon, a group of big boys from the neighborhood surrounded me, admiring my bike. Then the biggest boy insisted on riding my bike, even though he was way too big for it. When he put his weight on the bike, he broke the pedal. I didn't feel so happy anymore.

That's the way happiness is. It depends on circumstances. Happiness is not the same thing as Christian joy. Joy goes deeper than just fleeting emotions. It is something beyond happiness or sadness. Joy comes from a trust in God that assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). Even when tragedy strikes, joy can be present. Joy keeps us steady during hard times because we know nothing is greater than God’s grace.

Joy is found in knowing where your strength comes from. The Apostle Paul closes his letter to the Philippians with these words: “... I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

That is the definition of joy. While happiness may be a temporary thing, joy is permanent because God’s love is unchanging.

The Rev. Elaine Ruth is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Surgoinsville, Tennessee.

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