Cultivating Joy

Here I am participating in a dunk tank for  Founder’s Day in Piedmont in 2004. Sometimes we  can find joy even when we are cold and wet!

Here I am participating in a dunk tank for

Founder’s Day in Piedmont in 2004. Sometimes we

can find joy even when we are cold and wet!

Lectionary reading for Sunday: Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)

Don Vaught mentioned the other day that between the two schools, OSU and OU now have 8 Heisman trophies together. Of course, he was referencing OU winning another Heisman trophy on Saturday night. Interestingly enough, this is OSU’s 30th anniversary of our lone contribution to the conversation. I was fortunate enough to watch Barry Sanders when I was in school.

This season has been more dismal than that one. We won 6 and lost 6 and will play Missouri in the Liberty Bowl to determine if our season is in the winning or losing column. While many talk about how bad this is, it is certainly not their worst season. I sat through all of that one as well in 1991. The Cowboys were still on probation and didn’t win a single game. They had one tie with Iowa State and we didn’t even get to see this highlight as it happened in Ames.

So I think about that season and how it correlates to today’s scripture reading. When Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always” I know there are some times when life is not going my way. How can I be expected to rejoice in the middle of an 0-10-1 season?

Yet, I did have a good time at the games. I came back for all of the contests even though I was already a year removed from graduation. Sheryl was still a student and we attended the games together. Somehow this took the sting off the losses!

At this point, I can remember just looking for a good play and celebrating it. Any touchdown was a big deal and we acted as if we had just won the game! Lots of consecutive losses can really change your expectations and your perspective. It also seems to bond the fans together. Something about shared suffering can do that!

As I watched the ups and downs of this season, I was up when we won but down when we lost. I had to ask myself about setting my emotional fortunes on the backs of 18 year olds.

This begs the question, “Is our joy dictated by circumstance?”

On one hand, if we are honest, we have to answer, “Absolutely!” And many of us have much more consequential suffering than watching your team lose a football game.

But on the other hand, we also know that circumstance doesn’t have to set our emotional agenda. Joy is a spiritual fruit according to the apostle Paul. How can we cultivate this fruit in our lives? How can it crop up even when others would tell us that it shouldn’t be anywhere in sight?

As we prepare for Christmas, I hope you’ll join us for worship on Sunday as we seek to discover how joy can be as spiritual for us as it is emotional!

In Christ,


Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at