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Daily Worship


January 6 | Philippians 1:3-11





Elusive Joy

by Mary Alice McGinnis

As you look back over 2023, what emotions well up? When you think about the year ahead, is joy the first thing you are expecting in 2024? How do you feel about joy? Does it come easily for you, or do you find it a bit elusive?


Why does joy seem so elusive?

I mean, isn’t it obvious? We have so much trouble, pain, and hardship all around us. Just when we think we are finally seeing a light at the end of a struggle, then BOOM, we get hit with another blow. It makes me feel like not allowing myself to even hope for joy.


The book of Philippians in the New Testament is sometimes called the book of joy. It was written by the apostle Paul while he was imprisoned in Caesarea for two long years. It seemed that his mission was cut short. He was bound in chains and his plans to spread the gospel thwarted. And yet somehow, he found JOY!


”I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy...”


I struggled with joy even when I was reading this passage today. My thoughts were drawn in the opposite direction, especially when I read the next part of the verse:


               “Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...”


Here is how the mental debate went. “But God! I have been betrayed by those whom I thought were my lifelong friends and partners. Those I once thought loved You have either walked away or were deceivers all along. How can I find joy?”


I read through the end of the Philippians chapter one and heard God’s gentle answer.

"Look again my child. Paul too had people who betrayed him. He too had those who only wanted to stir up trouble for him. Yet he held on to this one thing!"


“...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


God nudged me to remember the myriad of people whom He has brought into my life who HAVE been a blessing to me and have walked beside me through the ups and downs. Some for a lifetime, some for only a season. 


Later in Philippians chapter 1, Paul says why he could hold on to joy:


“And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”


Where is joy feeling elusive to you right now? Where is God gently calling you to look and see the ways He is and has been providing for you? Where is He nudging you to remember with JOY how He has begun a good work in you, and He WILL carry it on to completion?


Heavenly Father, my heart has trouble embracing joy. I am so quick to allow the voice of my enemy to speak hopelessness and bitterness into my heart. You, Holy Spirit, live in me! You have begun a good work in my heart. I trust You to complete the work that you are doing. Jesus, I will hold on to YOU and the JOY that knows how the story ends. You will deliver us! Thank You for all those You have used in my life to bring me closer to You.

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