Joy is something that is often associated with happiness. A warm feeling we get when we get something nice or things in our lives are going well. Joy is something so much bigger. In a life of faith, joy stems from the source of our hope, Jesus. Joy is more than our circumstances, more than our struggles. It is about knowing we can rest in the arms of a loving God and recognize that even when we face the most difficult challenges we can find peace. If we take hold of the knowledge that God is greater than anything we face, and we bring that together with the understanding that he loves us (A LOT). We can find a joy that lasts, a joy that overcomes, a joy that can never be taken away. The book of Philippians is interesting not only because there are so many amazing passages, but also because in it Paul constantly speaks about joy and rejoicing. He wrote this letter while he was in prison! In the midst of suffering and persecution Paul expresses joy and calls us to rejoice as well. To rejoice in Jesus, his promises, his hope and the restoration of all things under him.
So what do I mean by brave joy? Sometimes we will experience joy through gritted teeth, and suffering. Other times we will experience joy in seeing the amazing things that God will do. Brave joy calls us to come to a place where all that we are is founded on who Jesus is. Brave joy calls us to live like he did. It calls us to a life of love, or surrender, of service. Brave joy is living completely in the knowledge that we are children of God and as such we reveal who he is by how we live. Our acts of love, service and mercy show people that they too are loved by God, that they have value, that they too are his children. Brave joy is rooted in Jesus and our reliance on him to work in and through us. Paul understood that in everything he encountered there was nothing he couldn't deal with because there was nothing that could ever change his identity in Jesus. The same is true for us. If we can take hold of the truth that there is nothing that cannot separate us from God's love, we can then face all the circumstances of our lives knowing that we might have trouble or face suffering but nothing prevents us from experiencing the love of Jesus. I pray that you can experience in a new and fresh way the lavish love that Jesus has for you.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me."