“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” – Romans 15:13 (AMP)
One of the most challenging places for joy to survive is in the valley of difficult circumstances. You know the story. You start out with your faith and your joy firmly intact, but then circumstances start to beat on your life. Things get harder. Visibility is reduced. Maybe you even start to focus on how difficult life has become lately, feeling hope slowly ebb away. And when you go to check on your joy it has suddenly gone missing. But that’s not how God designed joy to be. We don't have to lose joy in the midst of a crisis.
This verse tells us three things about receiving and maintaining joy despite difficult circumstances:
“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace ” – The first thing to remember about joy is that it’s not something you can find or obtain on your own. God is the giver of your joy. Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a struggle and thinking, “I really should be more joyful”? Maybe people are “encouraging” you to be more joyful as you struggle through your circumstances or perhaps you feel a little bit guilty about feeling so down; you do have Jesus after all. So you grit your teeth and try with all your might to feel joyful. But joy doesn’t work like that. God is the giver of joy. When you’re in the valley, turn to God to restore your joy. Feeling you need to please those around you with an appearance of joyfulness or beating yourself up and feeling guilty because of your lack of it will never lead you to joy. But the God of your hope is ready to fill you with all joy and peace. Turn your eyes and heart towards him, right in the midst of the chaos.
“Through the experience of your faith” – Here’s the shocker – What we believe as we walk through tough circumstances actually determines whether we’ll be joyful or not. Our joy has nothing to do with the circumstances themselves. This means we could be going through the toughest trial of our lives – the loss of a loved one, a debilitating or terminal illness, a severely deep depression, impending death on a cross – and we can still access joy. Joy is available even in the darkest of moments when we engage our faith in God and in what his Word says about our circumstances, even when those circumstances seem bleak. Stop focusing so much on what you see and hear in the natural. To be filled with joy start asking God what he has to say about your circumstances. Ask him to give you his eyes for a particular challenge so you can see how he sees it. And then engage your faith in what he has said and shown you. Joy will come as you experience faith in his truth.
“That by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope” – The bonus of this scripture is that joy doesn't travel alone. Joy comes with peace and produces hope. As we endeavor to get up above our circumstances through faith, trusting the Lord with our outcome, we allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. He comes in with his power and causes us to be able to apprehend hope in our situation. We're not left in the valley. Our hope will lead us out into joy and peace.
Before finding this verse, I was generally miserable in the midst of tough circumstances. In fact, I would literally fuel my own misery, constantly thinking there was no way to have any hope or joy until my circumstances turned around. But this verse changed everything for me. I now know that joy comes in believing. And as God fills me with that joy and I receive it, this opens up an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to restore my hope. When I engage God through faith in my toughest circumstances, I can have joy and hope. So can you.