Joy can be expressed any time, any day, and under any circumstance.
Many writings and artifacts have been uncovered from early civilizations over the last few years. Insights into early culture have sprung up at dig sites, ancient landmarks, and early structures. One interesting writing that was found was written by a man in the third century, only a few hundred years after Christ was on earth. The writing seemed to have been from this man to a friend of his, while the author was dying. The note read: "It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians-and I am one of them."
The early centuries were known as a tumultuous time, especially for those who professed to believe in Christ. Many Jews rejected the claim that He was God's Son and the Messiah they had long awaited. Many people rejected the "new" religion he brought. And many were angered by the claims of Christians. Because of this, there was much persecution of those who claimed Christ was Lord.
Rulers such as Nero, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian were hostile toward the belief in God, and had much to do with the persecution of believers. This was a difficult time to be a believer. Nevertheless, as the man stated above, there was a sense of joy in the lives of Christians, a joy that could not be contained or explained.
One thing that has caused many Christian martyrs to stand out throughout history has been the joy expressed even in suffering. Even when burned at the stake, cast to the lions, or publicly executed, Christians have praised God for His goodness in saving them.
How could Christians have such joy in "an incredibly bad world"? What caused them to stand out as joyful people during this time? They didn't feel joy due to pleasant circumstances; they felt joy knowing God was in control.
We can have joy today because we know that God is watching over us. A few days ago, we thanked God for the hope He has given us. That hope should give us joy each day. As the songwriter wrote, there is joy in knowing Jesus.
Knowing you have a home in Heaven, a Saviour who loves you, and all the blessings of Heaven-how can any Christian not be joyful? Those who focus on themselves and the situations around them rarely express joy. But Christians who acknowledge the blessings they have are often seen expressing joy even in the toughest of situations.
Are you expressing joy today? Would someone notice your joy as they pass by you? Take your eyes off your circumstances, and focus them on your Saviour. Thank God that you are able to express joy no matter what may come. Make it a point today to be joyful. Remember that God is still on His throne, and you still have a home in Heaven awaiting you!
Source: Daily in the Word, November 15, 2009