November 01, 2020 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart
For most people around the world, this year has been a troublesome, daunting year. The word “joy” doesn’t come to most peoples’ minds as a descriptive word for this year. Words like frustrating, sad, depressed, angry, are words that come to mind as many of us think back over 2020. So, why is joy such a hard thing? Why is it so difficult to experience joy in the midst of so much hardship?
It has been said that joy is the byproduct of obedience, and this makes sense when we consider that joy in the believer’s life is something that is produced as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
Consider the fruit production of an apple tree. It needs adequate sunlight, proper soil drainage, a regular water supply, and proper nutrients for healthy growth. But on top of all these things, apple trees need to be properly pruned and cut back strategically in order to produce apples that are healthy and abundant. Just as healthy apples aren’t produced without some level of difficulty, the fruit of the Spirit produced in a believer’s life doesn’t always come easy (John 15:1-5).
The fruit of joy takes time, labor, pruning, and, oftentimes, growing through seasons of drought and hardships. Producing joy requires healthy roots that are able to continue growing deep into the soil of God’s goodness and love. It’s only then that the believer and Christ can consider it pure joy when they encounter trials of many kinds, as James says in the New Testament (James 1:2-4, NLT). Why? Well, James tells us why… 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
As we remain obedient to follow Christ and grow in Him continually, we are then able to produce joy in great supply and abundance. We learn that joy isn’t a temperamental thing, but rather a byproduct of our obedience to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:1-3). It was because of the joy awaiting Him that He endured the cross, scorning its shame, that He produced the reason for our hope and joy: salvation.
Joy is a struggle, it’s a fight! So, are you fighting the good fight of faith, and considering it joy when you encounter trials and troubles of many kinds? Have you allowed the difficulties of this year to steal your joy? Don’t forget: Joy is the byproduct of obedience; specifically, obedience to Christ.