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Joy in Unexpected Places

Joy in Unexpected Places
by Sharon Banister

A few months ago, after I arrived to clean a house for a client, the owner and I began talking about some difficult things going on in our lives. I have always admired this person because in the midst of earth shattering, difficult circumstances, she still exudes peace and joy.  She smiles and laughs, and sees the positive side of life’s hardest moments. 

After our conversation, she left the house and I began to work. As I was moping the floor, I looked down and saw something that brought a smile to my face. The word “JOY” was formed in the crack of one of the tiles. 

Sometimes joy shows up in the most unexpected places. I have learned that joy is different than being happy. Happiness is a feeling or emotion that is dependent upon our circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is more than just a feeling or emotion, and it is not dependent on our circumstances, but comes when we rely on God as our source of strength and fulfillment.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

I used to look at these fruits and think of them as completely separate ideas, but I wonder if they might be listen in a progression. Can we truly have joy if we don’t experience or know love?

First, we must allow love (God) to enter into our lives. When he is part of our lives, we begin to have joy. When there is joy, we begin to feel peace.  When we are at peace, we develop patience. When we are patient, then being kind tends to come naturally. When we are kind, then others see us as good, and we can also see good in others. If we can see good in others, then we approach people and situations with gentleness. As we become gentle, we begin to develop faith in God, others, and ourselves. Finally, as we become full of faith, then self-control becomes easier.

I find it interesting that joy is listed right after love. It doesn’t come after kindness or goodness, though I suppose it could. But the more I learn about God, his heart for us, and how much he desires us, I can see that he wants me to find joy right after I find him.

There are many times that I have a hard time being happy about my circumstances, but I can usually still find my joy. I can’t explain the peace that comes in that moment, but I know it is there. Even in the cracks of my life, as tiny and small as they can be, I can look back and see that JOY has been written in the most unexpected places.