Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” If we believe that nothing in the Bible is mere happenstance, then the order of the fruits should mean something to us. Joy is right after love and we know 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “…and the greatest of these is love.” But what is joy?
If we think joy and happiness are the same thing, we are mistaken. In fact, my experience is that there is a paradoxical relationship between joy and sorrow. The two go hand and hand. The strongest examples of joy in my life, I associate with times of great sorrow. Many in our church will remember that 19 years ago my youngest brother, Brandon Stovall, was killed in a car accident. Along with my own grief, I experienced the powerful pain of watching my parents lose their child.
My faith took a hit. I knew my parents had prayed for Brandon, yet this was his tragic end nonetheless. With my mustard seed of faith I began to pray. I made a choice to praise God in the situation and trust Him and that somehow everything would be alright. Before long, the fruit of joy began to bloom. I saw joy in the hundreds of people offering every kind of support you can imagine. I heard joy in the words of Dr. Gannon’s eulogy. Most important, I felt joy in the bottom of my soul; that settled, quiet confidence that everything would somehow be alright.
These reflections on the fruit of the spirit by our deacons will appear throughout the summer. Click here for more deacon stories.