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"Could you be happy around Christmas if you had no money in your pocket, no home of your own, and no gifts to give or to receive?" - I ask my students sometimes. Some usually say that they could. Many think that they couldn't. Then, I confess that there was a time when I was rejoicing during the Christmas Season under such conditions. "For, in 1956, I was spending most of the Christmas Season in a US refugee camp." - I continue. "Thus, I remember how I was walking up and down the isles of those old army barracks turned into a refugee camp, and admired the beautiful decorations the American soldiers put up for us thinking: 'although I don't have a penny to my name, or a home of my own, nor even a gift to give to my little daughter; still this is the happiest Christmas Season of my life!'


Why? Because for the first time, I am free. I'm free spiritually and physically.'" "Physically, because for the first time in my life I was spending this season free from persecution. As in my homeland - since my father was a converted Jew and as such was preaching the Gospel - I experienced several kinds of extreme hardships; from the Jewish to the Christian persecution. But that will be over here. Spiritually, because it was during February of that year that - with the help of a lady - I invited Jesus into my heart, and asked him to forgive my sins; and he - as a result - moved into my heart, forgave my sins, and granted me a place in Heaven. Thus, I received spiritual freedom also." - I explain.

"For, the fact that my sins were forgiven; I didn't have to fear death, because I had a reserved place in Heaven; and that Jesus - through his own Holy Spirit - lived in my heart and helped me to live to his glory; gave me such joy, which could not be obtained with money, or a beautiful home, or gifts whatsoever. As this is a deep, permanent joy. A joy that is present even when I'm burdened by the hardest trials, or sob due to an unbearable pain. In other words" - I conclude - "it is a constant joy that doesn't depend on circumstances." But I'm not the only person who is able to rejoice during hardships.

In the Bible we read about several. For example, the prophet Habakkuk wrote about his joy during famine when he said: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, Yet will I be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights." (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV.)

While, the disciples rejoiced when they were imprisoned, threatened, and beaten for witnessing about Jesus Christ. In Acts 5:41-42 (NIV) we read: The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Then, the apostle Paul spoke of a joy he possessed in spite of sufferings, when he said: " servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beating; imprisonment and riots; in hard work sleepless nights and hunger; ... dying and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 NIV.)

As a mater of fact, how real Paul's joy was even during great hardships was proven by what happened in Phillipi. For, while spreading the Gospel with Silas in that city, he delivered a girl from a spirit of fortune-telling, and "When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities... The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks." (Acts 16:19-24, NIV.)

And what did they do? Did they immerse themselves into self-pity? Did they condemn their persecutors? Or did they blame God for allowing them to go through so many difficulties when they are serving him? NO! According to Acts 16:25, in spite of their wounds, pain, the stocks and hardships: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God..." In other words, they were rejoicing in the Lord.

Thus, is it possible to rejoice in spite of famine, homelessness, persecution, beatings and pain? The answer is: Yes it is! However, not everyone is able to do that.

In that case, who is able to?

- We may ask. Only persons who invited Jesus into their heart already; asked for, and received his forgiveness and a place in Heaven; and yielded themselves totally to him.

Attention please! Permanent joy is not available to anyone who leaves out even one of the above steps. Therefore let me repeat. Only people who (1) invited Jesus into their heart; (2) asked for, and received forgiveness of sins and a place in Heaven; and (3) totally yielded themselves to God can rejoice during trials.


Because only such persons will constantly feel the indescribable joy over their forgiveness and place in Heaven.
Furthermore, only such persons will bring forth the fruit of the Holy Sprit, the first of which is joy. (Galatians 5:22)
In addition, only such persons will have a reason to be happy knowing that their Lord will bring forth some kind of a blessing from every trial. (Romans 8:28)
Moreover, only such persons will be able to believe that one day all trials and pain will be over, and then they will live in eternal joy with Jesus in Heaven forever.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea vanished.
And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband. I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne:
"Now God's home is with mankind! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared." Then the one who sits on the throne said,
"And now I make all things new!" He also said to me, "Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted!" (Revelations 21:1-5)

Do you have such a lasting joy? Or do you loose heart, or accuse and attack others, or blame God when trouble hits? If you have this joy, then you know how valuable this deep, lasting, inner joy is and may want to praise God for it now and forever.

However, if you don't posses it yet, I plead with you: invite Jesus, the Savior into your heart now; ask him to forgive your sins; and yield yourself totally to him. As a result, he will immediately move into your heart; forgive your sins; give you a place in Heaven; and take over the throne of your life.
Then, you too will receive the joy of forgiveness, eternal life, and the joy of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the joy of the Lord will become real to you, even in the midst of the hardest trials.

God bless you richly!

"Whoever wins the victory will receive this from me:
I will be his God, and he will be my son.

But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars - the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Revelations 21:7-8)

How wonderful the Lord is in all His acts!
Glory to His Holy Name!


Jesus is my life, strength, peace.
Jesus is my companion, my joy.
I trust in You. You are the Lord.
I do not have any fears any more because You live in me.
I do not have any fears any more because You live in me.

Jesus lives! Halleluja! MARANATHA!

Translated by Eva Varga

Mátrainé F. Irma: ÁLLANDÓ ÖRÖM


Some experience with ill people by Istvan Gazdag

Edit by Rozalia Makai

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