Summary: Every now and then someone becomes inconsolable because of loss and grief or trauma. The question we are going to be considering throughout this message is 'How do we comfort ourselves let alone someone else in the face of increasing amounts of "Joy-Buste
Spreading the Joy
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 7-9
I am going to focus on just these words: 'Rejoice in the Lord always.The Lord is near.' Who has ever had a 'Joy-Buster' knocking at their door? Yeah!
Most of us have been confronted by 'Joy Busters'. They have a natural way of gate crashing into our lives. I am not going to rehearse the griefs and sorrows, aches and pains, family dramas and stress from school and work. These are very real. Every now and then someone becomes inconsolable because of loss and grief or trauma. The question we are going to be considering throughout this message is 'How do we comfort ourselves let alone someone else in the face of increasing amounts of "Joy-Busters.'
Today we increasingly recognise that many little traumas, also called little 'ts' can be like drops in a bucket. Eventually the bucket gets filled to overflowing and the little 'ts' have the same impact as a big 'T' Trauma.
I mean this very seriously, you are entitle to be stressed, anxious, and worried! The Bible has some pretty good things to say to help us with these things, but it never denies us the truth that things hurt and stress us. You are entitled to say, 'With all the issues I face in my health, family, finances, work - I have a right to be uptight!' Basically The Bible acknowledges that stressors, anxieties, worries, grief, suffering will all come our way. The questions is what we do next with our entitlement to be stressed.
Let's take a look at the lighter side of a few other unhelpful responses:
'Ah, bad things happen to all of us.'
'Oh, you shouldn't feel like that darling.'
'Snap out of it!'
'Get a grip on yourself.'
'Quit holding a pity party.'
'You think your problems are bad, wait till you hear mine.'
'You can leave your problems at the door, thank you. We only allow happy people in here.'
Of all the bad responses, I reckon that the next one is the one I would find most acceptable:
'Well, if your gonna be miserable I may as well all get in on the act. Let me tell you my problems.' At least this person is accepting to some degree!
There is the response of the legalist:
'You must have done something wrong!' Or,
'Don't you know what the Bible says, "Do not worry, you are commanded to rejoice."'
There is the counsel of the pessimist, the optimist and the realist. There are also people who live in denial - they have a way of making your problems not exist by declining to talk about them. They remind me of Job's friends. They make poor counsellors. When a 'Joy-Buster' comes a knockin' you need to know you have a good counsellor or two.
Now, if you do feel maxed out, the last thing you need is someone from the 'PTLA' turning up, you know, the 'Praise the Lord Anyway' society. Phewh! I can feel their hands patting mine… Seriously, be kind to them. We all have our masks! Most of these people have not lived or they are in a lot of pain themselves and do not know how to process it.
Anxiety is the supreme Joy-Buster. An anxious person is ever on edge. A worried person cannot be quieted. Jesus, Peter and Paul each address the issues of anxiety and worry, as in our text (Matthew 6: 23-34; I Peter 5: 7; Philippians 4: 4-7).
So how do we comfort ourselves let alone someone else whose door is being pounded by 'Joy-Busters?'
St Paul hit the nail on the head when he wrote. 'Rejoice in the Lord. He is near.' Some of you only heard the command 'Rejoice!' You are the legalists. We all have to confront that tendency within ourselves, especially when we are in over our depth trying to help someone who has gone through things we have never seen or heard of before.
St Paul actually said, 'Rejoice in THE LORD. HE IS NEAR.' We call that a 'Gospel Imperative,' a commanded that derives from or arises out of the good-news about who God is and what he has done or is doing. The focus of this kind of command is on God, not on us. We are the ones who carry out the command, but we can only do so if our eyes are fixed on our Lord Jesus and his proximity to us.