The Painful Pursuit of Joy

Last week I felt an upward tug on my heart. (Not, I say, at the corners of my mouth.)

As I prayed about my next in-depth study of Scripture, I sensed a pull in the direction of Philippians. I will confess that I did not feel a particular kinship to the Apostle and his message of unbounded joy in the midst of chains.

Still don’t.

(Lord, couldn’t I just hide my heart in Lamentations for a while longer? THAT is a language I know how to speak!) But no. His message to me is clear: I must learn to speak the language of joy—to live and breathe and have my being  in the heady atmosphere of joy. Joy that is disciplined. Joy that is rigorous. Joy that was purchased for me at the Cross.

That is not to say there won’t be pain in the pursuit. (Ironic isn’t it—pain in the pursuit of joy?) Even this morning He has been at the work of burning away what remains. His grace is faithful like that.

It’s funny really. For all my cowardice at the prospect of joy, my life verse is found in Philippians.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Philippians 2:5–8 (ESV)

Obedient to the point of death? How on earth is such a thing possible?  Hebrews 12:1–2 has the answer:

“… for the joy that was set before Him… ”

Ah. Ok Lord. Philippians it is.

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4 thoughts on “The Painful Pursuit of Joy

  1. I knew the answer the moment I read, “How on earth is such a thing possible?” It came with force and even JOY!

    I hope never to be so callous as to downplay the pain of pain. But, oh, let me be the one who always remembers this truth – this powerful punch of joy-full irony in the midst of agony. The very thing that had Stephen gaze into heaven and see God’s glory – Jesus standing… !

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