St Paul was very thankful when thinking about the church at Philippi. Whenever he prayed for the Church people at Philippi he felt this tremendous joy. The whole letter of Philippians is like a thank you letter from the beginning to the end. You see the thankfulness of St Paul, so whenever he thought about this congregation he had this overflowing joy, and that joy came from deep in Paul’s heart. I think it’s wonderful to have that kind of joy, not many people live with that kind of joy, that joy that comes from the bottom of your soul and heart, and Paul had that kind of joy. Ministry can be quite frustrating. Church ministry can be quite frustrating. The church is not a perfect place. The church is not a utopia, a church is a place where many people also get hurt and disappointed. So I told KSM members, if you survive church, you’ll go to heaven. The church is a hard place to survive it can be quite difficult, but the Church of Philippi was not that much different. That church had a problem too. There was a division in the church. Two women were fighting with each other and because of these two women leaders, the church was divided too. Some people follow one woman and the other people followed the other woman. That’s why St Paul said at the end of the letter “Euodia and Syntyche have the same mind and same heart in the Lord.” But that problem did not take away joy. It did not deter joy from St Paul. Whenever he was thinking about the church he was still thankful. Not only thankful, but he also had this tremendous joy. We can see that joy in his letter. “I thank my God every time I remember you constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers.”
The Power of Joy
For all of you can see that joy Paul has, overflowing joy, but it’s not just overflowing joy. It was deep-seeded joy. Somehow it came from the death, not here, but from the depth of his soul. It’s not the joy that just makes you feel good, it is not feel-good joy. When I see Paul’s joy, it was not an emotion it was more like a power, some kind of power. Power to chase away the gloomy and dark thoughts. How powerful that is when you have that, many times we are often surrounded by dark thoughts, but he had this power to chase away those dark thoughts so joy was not just an emotion. It was a power to Paul. It wasn’t that Paul had joy because everything was going well, but his joy came from the belief that everything would be alright. There’s a difference between the joy that you feel because everything is going well. That’s one thing, but there is a joy when you believe that everything will be alright. Those are two different kinds of joy. He confessed that in this way and I think this is really, really important and a good passage for you to remember all the time in your life, and this is what he said, “I am confident of this. That the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ”. It’s a beautiful passage. I want you to remember, memorize and always hold it in your hand. Put it on your forehead and carry around with you all the time. Just insert it and then engrave it in your soul. This passage is very important, and a good passage. God who began a good work will bring it to completion, ultimately when the right time comes. So it wasn’t because Paul felt good about what was going on right now, that he had joy. It was because of his faith, the faith that everything would work out alright, and from that, he had this joy. You know, the joy that you feel because everything is going right right now is an emotion, and that emotion is good but that emotion is very unstable.
Joy as an Emotion
The feeling of joy you feel right now can turn into sorrow immediately and sometimes even into anger the next day. Today you may feel good and you feel joyful, but tomorrow you’ll feel very sad and on the next day, you may get really angry. So that emotion of feeling good, the emotion of joy is good, but it’s unstable. Paul’s joy was not just an emotion. As I said, it was almost like a power. The power that comes from confidence, the confidence that everything will be alright in the end. The joy of faith that is future-oriented, the joy of emotion is present-oriented. The joy of faith is not based on what is going on right now. It is based on the future that didn’t happen yet, so how can you have an emotional response? It didn’t happen yet, but that joy comes from the confidence that everything would be alright. It didn’t happen yet, but everything will be alright, so you can only have the joy from faith because it is based on what hasn’t happened yet. Only with the eyes of faith, we can see our future in a new perspective and that gives us the confidence for our future. I mean, that’s what faith is. A Hebrew writer told us this, “Now, faith is the assurance of things you hoped for, the conviction of things that were not seen”. It didn’t happen yet, ‘not seen’ and it’s just something that you hope for, but the faith is assurance and conviction. What Paul had was the joy of faith and the joy of faith will never disappear.
Joy and Light
Our faith always looks forward, always waits, and always trust in a better future. From that faith, we have this incredible joy, the joy of confidence. That’s why we can be joyful in suffering and in pain. It makes sense why some people can be joyful, even in pain and suffering. James told us to rejoice when we receive trials as we studied the book of James, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it as nothing but joy. The joy of faith is the power to overcome our trials, it is the power to overcome our sufferings, it is the power to hold on tight and not fall into deep darkness. These days we have a lot of people who are suffering from depression and anxiety problems. I hope that we can all tap into this power of joy when we have this joy of faith, the light will shine in our hearts. Joy and light go together. Being joyful and having the light they go together. All the negative thinking, dark thoughts will dissipate. Our anger, hatred, and struggles will be melted away. From the depth of our soul, the praise of joy overflows our suffering from dark thoughts, unhappiness, anger. I hope that this joy, the power of joy may work within you. Do you believe that your life will work out alright in the end or do you believe that your life is good now, but ultimately my life will be ruined or will not be very good? What do you believe? Do you believe that your life will work out alright in the end or do you believe that your life will not be very good? Whatever you believe will happen. Whatever you believe will shape your future. Our faith shapes our future. Our life follows what we believe.
Just because things do not go well, do you complain, get frustrated and get angry or do you have faith that in the end, it’ll work out alright? Then you’ll have this joy of faith and you’ll have this power that you can never get from anywhere else, and with that power, you can overcome all the challenges you face in your life. Your feet will be strong, your hand will be strong. You’ll be able to handle the challenges of life. Today’s the second Sunday of advent, in the season of Advent we wait. Waiting is not just bearing through. Waiting is trusting in God’s promise and waiting with joy. When you wait with joy, you will be able to hear good news. You will be able to hear, you will be able to experience a good life. Be merry, be joyful, because God is with you. God will bring you to completion. Merry Christmas. Truly, always starting from December we say Merry Christmas. Every day’s Merry Christmas. So let’s say Merry Christmas. May God be with you and fill your heart with joy. Don’t live with sadness. Don’t live with dark thoughts. Don’t let the anger dictate your life. Always have the power of joy deep within you. Your life will be alright.