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Finding Myself in the Journey, Part 3

Chip Dodd in his book The Voice of the Heart identifies eight emotions common to man; hurt, sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, shame, guilt and gladness. Each feeling has a corresponding benefit and impairment. The impairment for gladness is happiness and entertainment. (Dodd, 2001, page 137) Happiness then is not gladness, nor is it joy. “To hope is to live from our hearts, and living out of our hearts we find fulfillment. As frightening as it may seem, gladness is not about outcomes. It’s about living fully.” (Dodd, 2001, page 119) Full living includes all the eight feelings that Dodd includes in his writing. Full living also includes having God in one’s life. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8, TNIV) But before he said this he talked about being broken in spirit, mourning over sin, seeking righteousness, showing mercy; and all of this leads us to be meek (or under God’s control).

Being under God’s control and following Christ is the essence of joy in my opinion. Paul wrote to the Romans that, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:4, TNIV) Later in this book Paul urges believers to “be joyful in hope.” (Romans 12:12, TNIV) Paul describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:10, TNIV) James wrote that for pure joy to be complete one’s faith must be tested. (James 1:2-5, TNIV) But most importantly, this joy that I am referring is not found in the spirit of man but the Spirit of God. (Galatians 5:22, TNIV) God has control over this joy, yet it is the individual who walks closely with God who reaps this fruit. The individual walking closely with God also knows that God commands His followers to be joyful on at least four occasions; Matthew 5:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4 and 1 Peter 4:13. Matthew Henry comments on the subject far better than I ever could. “The joy and peace of believers arise chiefly from their hopes. What is laid out upon them is but little, compared with what is laid up for them; therefore the more hope they have the more joy and peace they have…Christians should desire after an abundance of hope.” (Henry on Romans 15:13) Christians then are to fight for joy, and the primary method according to the Biblical writers and at least one commentator is to believe in the hope of God. Final part next week.

Creed Branson, Executive Pastor

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