In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. (2 Corinthians 7:4)
What is extraordinary about Paul is how unbelievably durable his joy was when things weren’t going well.
Where did this come from?
First of all it was taught by Jesus: “Blessed are you when people hate you. . . . Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23). Troubles for Jesus compound your interest in heaven — which lasts a lot longer than earth.
Second, it comes from the Holy Spirit, not our own efforts or imagination or family upbringing. “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy” (Galatians 5:22). “You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
Third, it comes from belonging to the kingdom of God. “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
Fourth, it comes through faith, that is, from believing God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). “I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25).
Fifth, it comes from seeing and knowing Jesus as Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
Sixth, it comes from fellow believers who work hard to help us focus on these sources of joy, rather than deceitful circumstances. “We work with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Seventh, it comes from the sanctifying effects of tribulations. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4).
If we are not yet like Paul when he says, “I am overflowing with joy,” he calls us to be. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). And for most of us this is a call to earnest prayer. Because a life of joy in the Holy Spirit is a supernatural life.