"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have told you so that my joy may be with you and that your joy may be full." John 15:7-11
What leads to having "fullness of joy" and "peace that surpasses all understanding," even in the midst of suffering and hardship?
- Abiding in the love of Christ
- Keeping God's commandments
- Abiding in God's Word
- Bearing fruits of the Spirit
"Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it." Luke 11:28
"Blessed are those who keep my ways." Proverbs 8:32
"Jesus replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God's Word and put it into practice." Luke 8:21
"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." John 13:17
"The one who looks intently into the perfect law and does not forget what they have heard but does it will be blessed in what they do." James 1:25
"Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete." John 16:24
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you are mature and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
If i'm lacking peace and joy in my life, then it must come back to me not abiding in God's love or in his Word. He is the God of Peace (1 Thessalonians 5:23) and Christ died for us to have life to the full (John 10:10). Peace, joy and freedom are available to us if only we would trust in God's authority and His goodness. If we follow His will for how we should live, then He will lead us beside peaceful waters (Psalm 23:2) and into the abundant life that we are promised through the death and resurrection of his Son.
God knows that we will and do go through terribly difficult things while on this earth. Although there is sin in the world causing people to suffer, He doesn't leave us alone and hopeless to handle it all by ourselves without any help. His Word is "a lamp for our feet and a light for our path." The Bible is a powerful tool and life manual for navigating the trials we encounter. He wants us to not only get through fires, but have peace and joy even while we're in them. He promises that we won't be consumed by the fires or abandoned by him. We will be more than conquerors over sin and suffering because of Christ who lives in us and was victorious over sin and death. If we follow Christ's advice (to abide in God's love) and keep God's commands (His loving rules that offer us protection and freedom), then we will have peace and joy no matter our circumstances (Philippians 4:11). God's love and grace is sufficient, for me and for you.