JOY /joi/ n. – gladness not based on circumstance
How would you define joy? While a “gladness not based on circumstance” isn’t exactly the dictionary definition for joy, it’s the one that I most need to remind myself of on a regular basis. This world may say that happiness and joy are one and the same, but as Believers who know that we live in a broken world and this earth is not our home, we cannot see these two words as synonymous. We know that happiness may come and go, but a joy rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus will never change, no matter what this life may throw our way. Peter explained joy this way:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9
According to Scripture, we rejoice because we know who Jesus is, what He did for us on the cross, and that He is coming back for us again someday. But how often do we let this truth seep into our hearts and minds and allow it to be the one thing that defines our joy each day?
As I write these words, Easter is right around the corner and the world is in the midst of a pandemic, one that is forcing people on every corner of the globe to “self-isolate”, wash their hands, and do whatever they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. If you ask me, this world needs to know the hope of Easter right about now and I need it, too. If we had eyes to see only what was right in front of us, we would likely not notice any joy set before us, but instead, we can choose to have our eyes set on Jesus, who already endured sin, shame, and death. And he did all of that for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus knew what was coming and so do we. We are not confused by the chaos currently surrounding us and we are not fretting about the future because we know that Jesus rose again on the third day. Our hope for all eternity rests in the God who sent His one and only son to die and then rise again so that we might live. Because of Jesus, sin and death have been destroyed forever, and we get to look forward to the day when this world will pass away, and there will be no more sickness or pain or crying or mourning (Revelation 21:4). We can confidently rejoice with joy today and every day because we know the end of the story, and this world, friend, is not the end.
But what do we do with this joy when we physically can’t be around our regular circles of influence? We give it away to the people right in front of us. The heart of IF:Table has always been to create space for intentional conversation around the table so that people will leave a meal knowing more about Jesus than when they sat down. And while that usually involves inviting people into our homes, it may mean focusing on roommates or family in this season, or it may involve a cup of tea shared virtually with a friend 5 states away. No matter where you are, you have a hope and a joy that this world needs to hear about. Go fix your eyes on Jesus, remember the joy set before you, and share your unshakeable hope and your best pantry-inspired meal with the people right on the other side of your bedroom door.
Written by Kristen Schryver