This month's fruit of the Spirit is Joy. And if I were to ask you "What things bring you joy? Where do you find joy?" I'd probably get some good answers.
Maybe you find joy in your family- your spouse and your kids. Thursday night we took the girls to the park. The weather was beautiful. We had a great time. I experienced joy in my family.
Maybe you find joy in food- Breyer's ice cream, jumbo shrimp. Thursday night my wife had actually made a delicious raspberry cake with this amazing icing. And we had eaten a late supper and really wanted to get out to the park before it got dark. So Karie cut these massive slices of that cake to take with us. And we thought we'd find a secluded spot where we could eat these things without anyone seeing us. You know it's embarrassing to stuff your face like that in public. But as we were driving in, Karis saw the playground and so we thought "Well, we don't know anyone here, so we'll just find a bench and pig out."
Well, sure enough, as soon as we start to dig in, we see a young couple from our church and we're like "Oh, hey. Hide the cake, Honey. Did they see the cake?" And after our kids had played a little while we were like "Bye, guys. We'll see you." And we began pushing the strollers to a secluded spot to resume the joy of eating. And the whole time Karis was crying "I wanna play with Cecily!" We said, "Sorry honey, Mommy & Daddy have something we need to do. You might find joy in food.
Or maybe you find joy in sports. Playing sports. Watching sports. I knew guys in grad school who would cut classes this weekend, just to get all the March Madness action they could possibly get.
Maybe you find joy in vacations-traveling, shopping, exploring new places or just relaxing.
So you could come up with lots of different things on your list that you find joy in. But probably one thing that none of you would put on your list is Suffering. None of us (in our right mind) would choose suffering as a place to find joy.
And yet what does James 1:2 say? "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations (or various trials)"? And you think, "How can I do that?"
We look at what's happening in Washington even as we speak-something that threatens the foundation of how we've done government, something that could be a road of suffering not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren. And the last thing we expect to find in that suffering is joy.
Well Peter here is writing to the "strangers" scattered abroad throughout Asia Minor. He's writing to Christian refugees, most of them slaves, who are about to experience Nero's persecution, who are about to experience suffering. And so he tells them where they can find joy.