Here is a question often asked:
Is it possible to be full of joy when everything is going wrong?
In Acts chapter 5, Peter and several other disciples were arrested for their faith. They were beaten and then released with the strict command NOT to preach the gospel anymore. Can you imagine the fear that would undoubtly fill your mind if you were in that same position? However, the disciples did not respond with panic or distress. Instead, they left REJOICING! And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (verses 41-42)
What tenacity! What boldness! To leave your enemies - full of joy - and courageously continuing your work even with the threat of death.
One of my favorite heroines of the Christian faith is a woman by the name of Maeyken Wens. Maeyken Wens was a bold woman of God who lived in the 1500’s. She was imprisoned and later killed for becoming a believer in Jesus. It was common in those days for Christians to preach or sing hymns or exhort the crowd to believe in Christ as they were being killed. To prevent this from happening in Maeyken's case, her captors screwed her tongue to the roof of her mouth. Then she was led out and burned at the stake. History says that when she was sentenced to death—when she found out that she wasn’t going to be released to go home to her family but was, instead, going to die— she wrote final letters to her husband, her son, and her pastor. In her letter to her son, she made this remark: “I did not know what to do for joy, when I was sentenced!"
Can you imagine facing execution for your faith with JOY?
It’s almost impossible to believe that having joy is possible in a situation like that. If you were honest, could you say that you would respond in the same way as Maekyen Wens? Would you have the same perspective and be full of courageous joy, all the while knowing that you would not be returning home to the arms of your husband and children? It's common for some to believe that joy is a happy little emotion that simply makes things in your life go smoother. It's nothing more than an invisible little drug that helps you be a little happier. In truth, joy is not so flimsy. Joy is powerful. Joy is courageous! To Maeyken Wens and countless others throughout Church history, Jesus was the sole source peace and joy. And as a result of Him being their Lord and Master, they triumphed through every pain, every heartache, every lonely moment, and they even triumphed in their death! Nehemiah 8:10 says: ...for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Obdeiently praising and thanking my heavenly Father for who He is and all that He has done produces a joyful spirit and attitude. No one can walk through their daily life full of joy when they are dwelling on discomfort or fear or pain. But all the things of earth that normally would have us in a state of panic or anxiety grow dim and fade away when we choose to turn and settle our eyes on Jesus. And in making that choice - daily - that joy gives us courageous strength to follow the Savior wherever He leads, unalarmed. Joy gives us strength to be victorious through the monotony, the pain, or the loss. The joy of the Lord gives us the ability to walk boldly forward in the grace and strength of God. That joy gives us the courage and the power to face death with a smile on our face and a song in our heart!
It's a beautiful thing; A powerful testimony to all that God can do with a life yielded to Him. Every day, a choice is set before us. We can choose to try and summon up enough "oomph" to get by on our own or we can choose joy and be given all we could ever need. Choose joy.
Philippians 4:13 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.