We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
I love how tough Paul is. He lists here all the bad & good things they go through as believers. Now they had seasons of revival & blessings & abundance, but they also went through horrible seasons of persecution. And there’s one verse in this passage that I needed to hear. In Verse 10 it says, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” The Message version says in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy.” How is that even possible? I know what it’s like when you have a dark cloud hanging over your head, you feel so down & you wonder how you are going to get out of this darkness. There’s many theories about how to climb out, but it’s really only the Joy of the Lord that can help. I’ve heard Pastor Wayne Cordeiro say that after he had a particularly difficult time in one area of ministry, he was feeling down & was struggling. But he felt the Lord say, we must Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). So he got motivated & went and started some new are of ministry in the church that would end up bearing a lot of fruit & doing a lot of damage to the devils kingdom.
One of the keys I’ve learnt from this is to stop looking internally and getting dragged down, but to look outwards to helping others, and it’s a spiritual law that “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed,” Proverbs 11:25. Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” The key here is to always look to the Lord. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is Joy. We need to make sure no-one steals our joy. Clearly Paul had Joy in the midst of good times & bad times. Now don’t want a fake, superficial Joy, that comes & goes determined by circumstances. But Joy from the Holy Spirit that is like the wise man that built his life on the rock. He heard the words of Jesus, & put them into practice, and no matter what storm came, he stood firm. If our joy is from the Holy Spirit, then nothing can take it away. Even in our sorrow, we can have the Joy of the Lord, the hope of heaven, a faith that God is on the throne, and he is working all things together for Good for those who love him & are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). CS Lewis said that “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” We need to hold on to the joy of our salvation. This will be a witness to many of our firm faith. Joy is J O Y. Jesus first, others second & you third. When you get that in order, as the song says, you’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart. And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tac! Lord, I pray that the Joy of the Lord will be my strength, fill me with your Holy Spirit & your Joy! In Jesus name. Amen.