As a basketball coach, how can you lose 75-72 to a top U.S. collegiate team in the last 15 seconds of a game and still be happy?  Especially when you thought you had won 74-73 because of your team’s great steal and subsequent basket?  How could a referee reverse that 2-point basket? More questionable, how could I, as this basketball coach years ago, have the joy we discussed in Part III of this series?

To have self-composure in this situation was more than difficult.  To put it mildly, inwardly I was boiling.  And then to meet my 6’7″ center in the locker room with his big smile and hear him say, Smile, coach, God loves you!” 

Really?  This was a poor choice of words!  How could he put everything into the game and still say that?  I couldn’t!  It was pure agony to lose when we should have won.  Yet, it opened the door to watch this player named Mack.  He never lost his cool, even under the most difficult circumstances.

As I watched Mack, I clearly learned this type of JOY was evidence of who was in control.  The problems, obstacles, and persons we encounter do not make us joyless, upset peopleThey simply bring out our basic nature.  “If you squeeze a lemon, you get sour juice.  The squeezing did not make the juice sour.  It merely brought out what was in the lemon.”

Nevertheless, the real JOY, the “smile-God-loves-you” joy, is the reality of Christ within.  It is better explained by St. Paul: “My present life is not that of the old ‘I’, but the living Christ within me.  The bodily life I now live, I live believing in the Son of God, who  loved me and sacrificed Himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)  I can trust Christ in every life circumstance.  Why?  Because He, who is All Goodness and Love, gave His very life for me.  Pure JOYa fruit of God’s Spirit.