“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”—Ephesians 5:18-20
Just before the Civil War, James Fields, whose father had been a sailing ship captain, published a poem called “The Captain’s Daughter.” In it he tells the story of a ship caught at sea during a terrible winter storm. It is after midnight, but everyone on board is too afraid to sleep. Finally when all hope is gone the captain goes below deck and is ready to give up…until his daughter speaks:
But his little daughter whispered,
As she took his icy hand,
“Isn’t God, upon the ocean,
Just the same as on the land?”
This reminder restored the faith of the captain and the passengers, and the following morning they reached the harbor safely. All of us go through experiences that are challenging—a serious health crisis, the loss of a job, a child who is struggling, or the death of a loved one. Bad things do happen to good people, even Christians. Some people respond to these difficulties with depression or anger at God for letting bad things happen to them. But others respond in faith and with a joy that remains in the midst of storms.
The difference in these responses is not found in the circumstances but in the degree to which the Holy Spirit is filling the hearts and lives of those believers. When we are full of Him, joy (part of the fruit of the Spirit) is a natural byproduct. We do not need everything to go well to be joyful. Instead we need to have the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts.–Dr. Paul Chappell