Our circumstances can threaten to steal our joy. We cannot control the constantly changing circumstances of life. Pandemics, social isolation, economic instability, racial injustice, civil unrest, violence, wildfires, hurricanes, and election seasons will not disappear even if we unplug the television and abstain from social media. Challenging circumstances abound.
How can we find joy in all circumstances? In his letter to the Philippians (which we will explore in a new sermon series called “Joy” beginning September 27), Paul unlocks the secrets of Christian joy. Paul’s joy is a result of his absolute confidence in the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Jesus is on the throne of heaven. Jesus is Lord of the universe. The world is at his feet. He is the captain of this ship and he is strong at the helm. Jesus is in control of all things and he is always working everything together for good. Instead of looking at Jesus through difficult circumstances, Paul invites us to see our situation through Jesus; Christ reigns, good wins.
This brings us to the following line of the Apostle’s Creed which reminds us of the power and sovereignty of our Risen Lord.
He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father, Almighty.
The Apostle’s Creed says Jesus was seated at God’s right hand. Is this merely a trivial detail? Jesus ascends into heaven followed by his seating or “session”. Christ was seated at God’s right hand and remains there for all eternity. God’s right hand is the place of highest position and power. Christ is Lord; he is vested with authority over heaven and earth. The world does not wait for Jesus to rule sometime in the future, his Lordship over the universe is now. No matter how challenging circumstances may be or how drastically things change, God’s purposes will be met. Jesus is at God’s right hand working behind the scenes weaving what evil intended for harm into something good.
Jesus accomplished all that was necessary for the salvation of humanity. Through his suffering and death on the cross, victory was obtained over sin and death. His humiliation is paired with his exaltation. Jesus returns to heaven in triumph and glory. He humbled himself and suffered death on a cross and God exalted him to his right hand (Acts 2:33). Jesus is crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:7-9). After his sacrificial death, he is resurrected, ascended, and restored to the close presence, power, and majesty of God the Father, seated in heaven on the throne of David forever.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick (living) and the dead.
Our intercessor sits at God’s right hand. God named Jesus as the Judge of all humanity. “He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). All the evil we witness in the world will ultimately be judged. Every human being will one day come before his throne and be examined. Jesus himself says in John, “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
If circumstances or people are trying to steal your joy, take your worries to the foot of the cross, plead your case at the throne of the Lord, place your concerns into the hands of the Judge of heaven, let go of fear and uncertainty. Remember who is at the right hand of God. We serve a powerful and risen Lord. We can find joy in all circumstances. Before he faced the cross, Jesus told his disciples, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Be Joyful: Even When Things Go Wrong You Can Have Joy, Warren W. Wiersbe
I Believe: Exploring the Apostle’s Creed, Alister McGrath