St Thérèse of Lisieux is quoted as saying, “I was between six and seven when I saw the sea for the first time. I could not turn away my eyes: its majesty, the roaring of the waves, the whole vast spectacle impressed me deeply and spoke to my soul of God’s power and greatness.”

As Christians, like St. Thérèse, we profess to experience the glory of God in all creation. Each morning I pray by my office window. I feel His presence as the rays of the sun peek out of the east. The blueness of the sky with its puffy white clouds speaks of His divine sovereignty. The river rocks trimming the grass and the hedges speak of His strength and His eternal nature, as does the ages old Florida Oak with its Spanish Moss waving “good morning” in the summer breeze. A single yellow orchid blossom greets me this morning as if to say, “Be full of joy and do not fear, God is here, and He is good.” Whether my day is on tap to be wonderful or incredibly challenging, God’s presence in this window scene is unwavering.

Perhaps the Apostle Paul sums it up best for us in Romans 1:20, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.” The blessing of joy comes from the knowledge of God and His love for us.

It’s easy to be filled with joy when times are good and full of hope and promise. But how do we find joy when there is war, famine, disease, persecution, and death. James in Chapter One, Verse two tells us that in the midst of trials we are to “count it all as joy.” How does that work?

The truth is that joy does not arise out of the wedding celebration, but from the fact that God has brought the bride and groom together in a loving relationship. And joy certainly does not originate from a death vigil in an ICU bedside, but it pours forth from God’s embrace around a drooping shoulder. Yes there is joy in both of these scenes because the wellspring of joy is God’s unconditional love and steadfast presence in our life. In the best of times, we are joyful, and we embrace God’s good gifts. In times of trouble and grief, we are grateful for the security and peace of God’s love, and the comfort of His presence.

The theologian, Henri Nouwen writes, “…in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together…There, gratitude is joy and joy is gratitude and everything becomes a sign of God’s presence.” (Here and Now: Living in the Spirit)

Whether we find ourselves blissfully happy or eternally grateful we can “count it all as joy” because Christ’s love and faithfulness is the solid rock on which we stand.

If you do not know Jesus today, take the first step into faith and real joy with this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my sins, and I need you. I want the joy in my life that only you can give. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please fill me with your Spirit to guide me so that all the days of my life will give you glory.

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