Joy in the Midst of Difficult Circumstances

Title: Joy in the Midst of Difficult Circumstances

Bible Book: Romans 5 : 1-11

Author: David Cook

Subject: Joy; Difficulties; Hardships



Key Verse - “…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5.2

Have you ever been around anyone whose life just radiated joy? Think about it, anyone can be happy when everything is going their way. Happiness has a lot to do with what’s happening in your life! If the bills are paid, children are acting right, spouse is behaving, your favorite team is winning, your hair is looking good, then you are going to be happy!

Did you know God has something special He wants to give you today – something much greater than happiness – it’s the gift of joy! Joy is not based on what’s happening around me. Joy is based on the truth that God is on the inside of me!

What are you depending on for your joy level this morning? How is it possible to have joy regardless of circumstances? What are some characteristics of joyful people?

I. Joyful People Enjoy Privileges That Are Priceless

When I was a child, I had the privilege of sitting down to a Dallas Cowboy player at our very own home. He did not make it long in the NFL and had sensed found a job in the forest industry. However, this made no difference to me! Here sat a man who had played football alongside of my heroes, Dallas Cowboy stars like Roger Stabauch, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, etc. Having this man come to our house, sit at our table, eat a meal with us, then practice football together after dinner was a privilege that was priceless to this 8 year old boy!

We each have privileges that are priceless to enjoy in this life. Perhaps some of you know someone famous or have had the opportunity to attend an event that is typically for the lifestyles of the “rich and famous.”

As great as these priceless privileges are, every child of God has some privileges that are priceless! Here are three examples:

A. The Privilege Of Being Clean Before God - Divine Favor

Look at what the Bible states, “Therefore, since we have been right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Too many of us are focused on what is wrong with us, that we can’t enjoy what is right with us! The main thing that is right with us is God says we are right with Him! This is not something we could do for ourselves – only something He could do for us! I have a pastor friend when you ask him who he’s doing, he immediately says, “Blessed and highly favored.” Why does he do that? Is he trying to boast and brag on himself? No. He’s simply reminding himself that in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he’s received benefits untold!

Think of what the angel Gabriel greeted Mary and spoke to her about God’s plan to use her to bring forth the Son of God into the world. Gabriel said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Luke 1.28

Many believers do not realize how much God has blessed them. They compare themselves with others who seem to be getting along better and become envious and jealous. They focus on their present difficult circumstances and feel God has abandoned them. They meditate on all their sin, shame, sorrow then come to the conclusion, it’s impossible for God to look with favor on me.

What does it mean to be right with God? I don't have to prove I am worthy of God's love. The door of access is permanently open.·I am free from the "score sheet" - the account is settled in Jesus·  I spend more time praising God and less time hating myself.

B. The Privilege Of Being Connected To God – Daily Fellowship

Do you remember what happened just hours before the crucifixion of our Lord? Among many things, Jesus took the time to teach His disciples a necessary lesson of daily fellowship with Himself and effective service unto one another. Knowing He was soon to die, Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water into a basin. With the water he washed His disciples feet and with the towel He wiped their feet.

Peter was taking in all of this and spoke up, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus said basically, “Simon, don’t worry about it – you don’t understand what I’m doing now, but one day you will.” This upset Simon and he protested, “No, you will never wash my feet!” Jesus said, “But if I don’t wash your feet, you won’t belong to me.” Simon said, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet.” Jesus said, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.”

What is Jesus teaching us here? He’s teaching us a lesson on being right with God through faith! He says, “When you come to me, because of my sacrifice on the cross for you, I wash you entirely clean. I take away all your guilt, sin, and shame. All of this was placed upon Me at Calvary’s cross. I bathe you with My forgiveness, mercy, peace, etc.”

What happens when we sin? When we are selfish? Then Jesus comes to us and says, “You don’t need to be bathed again, but you will need to let me wash your feet once more. As you go out and about, as you indulge in sin, as you dishonor Me, as you lie, gossip, cheat, harbor anger one against another, your feet are getting dirty.”

His love for us doesn’t change, but ours can change toward Him. That’s why it’s so important to understand 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As a child of God, when you sin against God you don’t need a bath (salvation), you need Him to wash your feet (fellowship restored).

Jon David and Nathan enjoy playing outside with the water on. They get muddy and dirty. Before they come in the door, they need a good foot washing! No matter how dirty they get, they are in the Cook family. The dirt doesn’t affect our relationship – but our fellowship! Once I clean off their dirty feet and bodies, they are free to enjoy our home! They have all the access they need! Sin never removes our relationship with God, but does affect our fellowship with God!

C. The Privilege Of Being Confident In God – Delightful Future

Romans 5.2, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

Some of you have a decision to make this week – that decision is whether or not you will fill your life with the bad news or good news. All the talk in America right now is, doom and gloom. You want to start a conversation easily with someone, just start talking about how bad things are in America and soon people will be joining right in. We act like America is our destiny and everything rises and falls upon America.

I’m glad my hope is not built on America! If it were, there really wouldn’t be much to look forward to and be glad about. God’s Word says, “You’ve got something to look forward to. You are going to share in My glory one day.” God says, “Your future is glorious in Me.

Saved people ought to have something to be rejoice about, Paul says. Not only Paul, but listen to what Jesus said, “Rejoice because your names are registered as citizens of heaven.” That’s something to shout about!

II. Joyful People Know Every Problem Has A Purpose

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are of good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-4

We think everything would be great if we had no problems or trials. We think, “If I could just get rid of all my problems, what a great person I’d become.” God says, “It doesn’t work like that.” Problems and trials are necessary to make us exemplary people in a difficult world.

Some of us complain things are just not going our way. You got a bad grade on the test, your car broke down, pressures at work, church folks aren’t treating you right, etc.

Look before me are some necessary ingredients of a cake – raw eggs, cooking oil, baking flour, etc. If I were to offer you these ingredients one by one, you would not want to taste them. However, when you put them all together, they are necessary for a wonderful tasting cake!

A. Problems Refine Our Character

Like the ingredients of the cake alone are not pleasant, on their own our circumstances can seem so unpleasant, unnecessary, unimportant, etc. We wonder why God allows us to go through such trying times. However, from God’s point of view, as He allows these things to take place in our lives, they produce something wonderful!

Don’t get me wrong – we don’t get happy because we have problems and tough times – we choose to rejoice because we know God is orchestrating all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

B. Problems Cause Us To Rely On The Comforter

Notice Romans 5.5, “And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Even in the midst of overwhelming problems, God is on the inside of you. Some of us would have never known the love of God in Christ Jesus, had it not been for some heavy duty problems that came into our lives. We think we are so strong on our own and can handle anything. We don’t need God, or so we think!

Let a problem arise on your job – let it cause you to rely on the love of Jesus. Let there be a problem in your family – let it remind you of your own insufficiency, but to understand a little better – let there be a little problem in the church – let it cause you to flow in the love of Jesus, which is always there on the inside of you.

Note 2 Corinthians 1.21-22, “It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our  hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.”

They say people are a little like bees sometimes. A bumble bee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself. Joyful people know every problem has a purpose!

Could it be this morning that God is using those problems in your life calling you to look up to Him?

III. Joyful People Take Pleasure In Their Provider

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will          certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

A. Our Helpless Condition

A couple of things we need to notice here. First is our helpless condition.

Something too few people realize is that Jesus and Jesus alone is the answer to our deepest needs. How does the Bible describe us here before we know Jesus? Descriptions such as “utterly helpless,” “sinners,” “enemies,” etc. are not real pleasant to think about.

In fact, if you were to ask most people, “Why should God allow you into heaven?” do you know what they are going to say most of the time? “I’m a pretty good person. I don’t drink, cuss, smoke, never killed anyone, etc.”

You see, they are measuring themselves with the wrong standard. The Bible tells us of the folly of measuring ourselves against one another. You’ve got to measure yourself against God!

We talk so much about what God loves, but there are some things that God hates! What do you  mean there are some things God hates? Look at Proverbs 6:16-19, “16 There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

When I understand the holiness of God and that I have sinned against Him, it makes me run to Him for mercy! Understanding in and of myself, I have no hope of eternal life…but thank God for Jesus!

There are going to be some clean, moral, highly educated, church attending folks that go straight to hell when they die – because they refused to come to God on His terms. It’s not for the good, clean, moral, successful, Mr. Have it all Together, Mrs. “Holier than thou,” Mr. I’m ok and you’re ok, that always understands how pitiful, ungodly, helpless, undone they really are before the Lord.

The gospel of self help is not the gospel of the scriptures. We can’t think our way, earn our way, exercise our way, eat our way, say our way to heaven. The only way anyone of us has a relationship with Jesus, eternal life, forgiveness of sins is because of the blood He shed on the cross and through the power of His resurrection!

B. His Heavenly Compassion

Second, look at his heavenly compassion. I read a T-shirt the other day that said, “Religion is man’s attempt to reach God; Christianity is Gods’ attempt to reach man.”

The bad news is because of my personal sin – I stand all guilty. Yet because of Jesus Christ, going to the cross, bearing the wrath of a Holy God in my place, taking upon Himself the punishment that well deserved to fall on me – because of my personal Savior, the Lord Jesus, I stand in all grace.

Phillip Yancey in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more…and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.. God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.”


Pastor, how does all this apply to me today?

  1. Make sure you are rightly related to Jesus – Is He your Lord and Savior?
  2. See problems with a new perspective
  3. Praise God for such a great salvation and become a “convoy of joy,” this week.
  4. Quit depending on others so much for joy and realize the real recipe for joy is Jesus – Others – You.

Suppose you have a friend named Jim who tells you, "I am going to buy you a $50,000 automobile as a gift." He drives up in front of your house with that brand-new automobile. Suppose you were to say to him, "Jim, I can’t let you do that. It is just too great a gift. Here is a quarter. Here is twenty-five cents; let me help pay for this thing." And so Jim pays $49,999.75, and you pay a quarter.

Now you are driving the car down the road, and someone says, "That is a nice car you have there." You say, "Yes, my friend Jim and I bought this car." That would be an insult to Jim, would it not?

We must remember that we cannot take any praise or credit for our salvation. None whatsoever! It is all of God. I shared with you three reasons for joy despite tough circumstances – for the child of God its privileges that are priceless, purpose for every problem, and pleasure in their Provider. Invite Jesus to be Lord and Savior today.

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