There was a season when I spent every Sunday afternoon in the women’s wing of the local county jail during visiting hours. There wasn’t much positive to see, even in the waiting room. I am sure that every person there had a difficult story to tell—maybe of heartbreak, disappointment, or broken promises. Yet, I’m guessing every prisoner there wished to be on the other side… out in that dreary waiting room.
Paul and Silas knew that, although they were physical prisoners, spiritually they were free! Don’t confuse this with assuming they enjoyed being there—I seriously doubt that was the case. But, they were able to separate their circumstances from who they were in Christ and the opportunity that God had given them at that moment. They were allowing the Holy Spirit to control their hearts and minds. The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are not things that come naturally to us—especially not when our circumstances are difficult or uncomfortable.
This may sound like bad news, but it’s actually great news. We don’t have to try to manufacture joy or force ourselves into feeling a certain way. All we have to do is abide in Christ and humbly allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in our hearts. We can be sad and joyful at the same time. Joy is not just about our emotions. It is a calm confidence and gratefulness as we trust in the Lord regardless of what is going on around us. And it is exactly what the world needs to see in the followers of Jesus. Our hope is in Jesus, not in our ability to control our circumstances or our emotions—let’s start living like we believe this is true!
Where can you display the joy of the Lord in your life today and be an example of God’s peace in the storms of life?