As the light shifts and darkness comes ever sooner each day, I am reminded that life also has its seasons.
Some seasons contain more darkness and struggle, while some are brilliant light. It’s not always that one season is better than another; they are just different. We may enjoy one over the other but looking back we can see they each have their place and that we have benefited from each of them.
How are we to navigate the times when it is darker, the times when we watch the light give way to darkness at too soon an hour? The Bible tells us in Nehemiah 8:10 that the joy of the Lord is our strength. What is joy and how does it help? Joy is different than happiness.
While being happy is great, it is dependent upon our circumstances. We are either happy or disjointed according to how life is treating us. Joy, however, is a strength that comes out of the spirit and is not dependent upon circumstances. We have joy when our hope is set in a place where it cannot be stolen, a place where it is secure. When all of our hope and identity is found within the material world, then peace is experienced as long as the economy of our world is performing at an acceptable level.
If, however, there is a downturn our peace and happiness are replaced by fear and anxiety, hope erodes, and our very identity is threatened. In contrast, when we set our hope and identity in God and the eternal, where the economies of this present world are irrelevant, then despite the season we find ourselves in, we can have joy.
In the 15th chapter of John, Jesus gives us these words: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12 ESV)
We also know joy when we follow Jesus’ directive to love as He has loved us. When we love sacrificially, we find meaning and purpose, we access the divine economy and receive joy as the dividend. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)
As we tread through this life and its various seasons, walk in light and have His joy, a joy that isn’t dependent on circumstance, but transcends the troubles of this world. Don’t live in the despair of a hopeless season of darkness, but instead let Jesus light your way. Embrace the season and let it teach you. Call on Jesus for He is near and He promises that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Tri Robinson is the pastor of The Rock Church.