Summary: A satirical look at the three robbers of joy: people, things and circumstances.

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-from the pastoral epistle to Fritus by Apaul*

(* Apaul of Tartarus, is the human author of the following epistles of the Nous Testament: Pro-man’s, I&II Carnalians, Galivants, Effusians, Flippantians, Confusions, I&II Thatserroneous, I&II Apathy, Fritus, Fleament, and Beshrews.)

Fritus, my son and my fellow minister, it really saddens me to tell you this. You will have to learn to deal with pesky bouts of joy in the ministry. It is unavoidable. However--do not despair--there are some things that you can do to lessen the intensity and duration of the joy.

This is important because joy can be absolutely devastating and demoralizing to a minister--and, therefore, to his ministry, and his family. Because, just as "the grass withereth, the flower fadeth", joy inevitably getteth the stuffing knocked out of it! Better sooner than later--as far as I am concerned! Why? Because, I--like many preachers--have learned that it is easier to just live in a constant state of doom, gloom, and despair than to go through these interminable bouts of ups and downs. Listen! If one doesn’t climb the steps, one can’t fall from the balcony. Right? How many people have fallen from the basement floor to their death? All right then, pay attention to my words, my son, Fritus.

Paul, the Apostle, makes typically convoluted references in his epistle to the

Philippians to the three robbers of joy: PEOPLE, THINGS, and CIRCUMSTANCES. Anyone suffering with joy can aid and abet these three thieves to take care of the worst--most persistent--bouts of joy.

Each of the first three chapters of Philippians list one of the treatments for the scourge of joy. First, in Philippians 1:12, Paul refers to the weapon of CIRCUMSTANCES. We read, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel."

Do you think that a person could really be rejoicing about being in prison? Of course not! Think about it. If that is the right interpretation of this passage, then why do so few Christians emulate Paul’s--alleged--joy? The reason is simple. He was actually saying--and most of us truly spiritual people have figured it out--that we should allow circumstances to nip joy in the bud.

For example: if the car breaks down, get despondent. Get angry. Kick or hit the car. Smash out a window--with your fist. Threaten to drive it over a cliff. Let your wife and children witness your display--they might as well learn to come down off of that balcony, as well. Right? Get angry about how you will pay for repairs. Yell at your wife about all the money she has been spending at the grocery store for food--generic and sales items. Remind her about that new dress she got last year. Berate your children for breaking their crayons, remind them that "toys cost money!". You might as well as make your home miserable. It will toughen up everybody for the "real world."

After all is said and done, you can pray and have faith in God’s Word--if you must. Try trusting the providence, purpose, plan, protection, and provision of God. Be like Job--if you must--who said, "What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Claim that Romans 8:28 does really apply to "all things""--if you must! But, as for me, I will be take the low road. The joyless road--the realistic road--is the one for me.

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