The celebrations during Easter time are a reminder that the cross and Jesus’ resurrection changed how we approach God. Because of the resurrection, we can live in the reality of having direct access to God. We can live in the reality of having the Holy Spirit guide us, lead us, talk to us and talk through us. Knowing this and living in this reality can be our greatest treasure this side of heaven.
But what does that joy look like for us living in South Africa in 2020 where we are faced with a pandemic, work difficulties and retrenchments, unanswered prays, constrained financial budgets for both the nation and many families? What does a ‘Joy in the Resurrection’ look like as we face the Coronavirus crisis both in South African and internationally? Is joy in the Lord a noble, aloof, ‘nice to think about’ idea that is far removed from the practical challenges of this world?
My immediate response is a most definite and resounding NO!
Knowing that Jesus was victorious at His resurrection strengthens me (and He remains victorious today). Reading in Psalm 91 of the assurances that God protects me and gives me immense peace, I have known and experienced His Peace in challenging times. Just as God said it would happen in Isaiah 26:3-4. Knowing that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of me, fills me with hope and it inspires me to look to God’s redemptive plan for the situations we are all facing. When I turn my focus to our God, I encounter the kindness of the most gentle Father I have ever known.
Truly our Holy God is all He says He is.
If we consider Jesus’ resurrection for one moment. Jesus’ resurrection establishes a new covenant with God and humanity. A new covenant where we can have an intimate relationship with God, a promise where we can be assured that our sins have no bearing on us when we bring them to God in repentance. This new covenant that Jesus introduced to us, not only brings us an assurance of a place in Heaven with The Father for Eternity, it also introduced a new way of living with God this side of Heaven. The New Testament is filled with promises that have been introduced to us as a result of Jesus’ resurrection. As believers of Jesus Christ, we are heirs of this new covenant with God. It is because of Jesus’ resurrection that we can be even more hope-filled in the midst of a global crisis. As we look to our Father, knowing He has delivered us before, we look to Him again, praying and trusting that He will deliver us again in His Sovereign way.
Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in The Lord always, again I say REJOICE“.
This passage is a strong encouragement for us to rejoice in the Lord all the time. It is the kind of joy that is not a happiness that comes from our circumstances but a confidence, a deep trust, that God is our Sovereign, living God and that we can trust Him to in all circumstances. It’s an encouragement to rejoice, knowing that God is immoveable and unshakeable. It’s an encouragement that despite our circumstances, that we can still REJOICE because God is still GOD. Even in the challenging days, or moments, we can trust God to turn things around, to restore relationships, to redeem work contracts and cause situations to work out for our good. Romans 8:28 assures us of that promise. That knowledge of a faithful, kind Father that ushers in peace and a joy in God to undergird us in difficult situations and tricky moments.
The Passion translation of Philippians 4:4 encourages us like this:
“Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One!”
If Paul were around today, with today’s colloquialisms, I wonder if he’ll make the above statement followed by a “DROP THE MIC” action. This verse requires a “drop the mic” kind of moment… because it settles so many seemingly valid reasons that try to steal or disrupt our joy in God!
Intentionally Pursuing Joy
I have come to understand that this joy and peace does not come automatically to us. It starts with two choices we make – the first choice is to redirect my attention off of our circumstances and onto God, and then secondly to pray.
Philippians 4:6 encourages us to pray:
“…do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard our hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God knew we would need to navigate difficult days, and, like a really good Father, He gave us tools to use to endure and overcome those days. Because of the resurrection we can have access to our Father and we can pray, we can encounter God and those moments change us. Concerns are reassured as we let go and trust God and in turn, He gives us a heavenly perspective.
In the midst of uncertain economic times in SA, we can turn to God, pray with a thankful heart and we can rejoice! We can rejoice that God is our provider. He is provider to us individually and He is provider to our nation.
In the midst of our current health concerns… we can pray! Thankful that the Lord hears our prayers and He responds (Psalm 56:9)! Rejoice in the power of the name of Jesus! Rejoice that God is our healer and our protector!
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can rejoice that as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we will spend eternity in Heaven with God!! And THAT is worthy of a whole lot of REJOICING!!
There is a joy that is ushered into our hearts and into our circumstances when we rejoice, pray and give thanks for who He is, for all He has done and for all He will do. He is God and we are His! Let us REJOICE!
Share this with your family and friends and encourage them to REJOICE in their current circumstances and worries! To rejoice even when it’s hard. Encourage one another and hold each other accountable. Read more on joy here.