“This resulted in an uncontainable joy filling the city!” — Acts 8:8 TPT
We now live in a world where we have to deal with uncertainty, arguably more than ever before. In spite of trying to be intentional about avoiding the bad news that seemed to pervade the media, one can hardly escape the gloomy realities of these uncertain times. While we live in an information age and have gotten used to quick answers and quick analyses, being faced with a world-wide-out-of-control pathogen which seems resistant to any quick fix—for example—has understandably saturated many hearts with fear and anxiety.
In a world of fictional fearless superheroes, our eyes have opened to reality. Life happens. In times like this, it is not enough to share platitudes or braggadocious sentiments in the name of instilling courage in others; our audacity needs to have a basis which must be able to survive the scrutiny of the realities of these times.
One place we can turn to in scripture to make sense of times of uncertainties is Acts 8:1-8. The passage begins with Stephen’s martyr in Jerusalem and ends with ‘uncontainable joy’ in Samaria. Stephen’s death ushered in an epidemic of persecution for the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. As a result of the persecution, the believers fled for their lives. But in fleeing, they carried the joyful news of Christ’s saving grace with them. One such migrant minister was Philip who found himself in Samaria and ministered to the people there. And how does the story end? “This resulted in an uncontainable joy filling the city!” (Acts 8:8 TPT)
The passage tells us that in the midst of uncertainties (such as the one persecution brought to those early believers), there is also an uncontainable joy—a pandemic joy—that is up for grabs. James echoes the same thought: “when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!” (James 1:2 TPT). You can be so joyful in this season—and any season for that matter—that your joy spreads widely into your community.
Over the next six days, we will unpack from this passage what this uncontainable (pandemic) joy looks like.