Principal Rainy, of whom a child once remarked that she believed he went to Heaven every night because he was so happy every day, once used a fine metaphor about a Christian’s joy. “Joy,” he said, “is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.” These words have been made into a famous chorus. Unfortunately, in today’s world, joy is measured by the amount of wealth and power one has. But it’s not so. The worldly wealth is not stable. It may give a momentary joy and happiness, but it doesn’t long last. Those who seek it get disappointed at a point in time. Many of us brood over the wealth of our friends, neighbours and others without focusing on the blessings we possess. Paul instructs Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” 1 Tim. 6:6. Every human long for the ultimate joy. Although many try to find it either through material gain or to live a life in isolation, unfortunately, one cannot have joy by human efforts.
Bible offers unimaginable joy, which is freely available to us as we move in His presence. The Word of God assures the very presence of the Father that we receive through Jesus that gives the completion of joy. Whoever has accepted Jesus as a personal Saviour also experience Him as the centre of their joy. There is a beautiful correlation between the two shortest verses in the Bible. In John 11:35, “Jesus wept”, and in I Thessalonians 5:16, Paul encourages us to “be joyful.” Our joy flows from the sympathy and grace of our Saviour. Jesus wept—we rejoice evermore. God wants His family to be happy, and that means that each member must contribute to the joy that we receive from the power of the Holy Spirit.
We often face the cloud of despair, but His joy gives us hope to face the challenges of life. While constructing the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah faced threats and oppositions by the enemies but he found God’s joy as his strength. In Nehemiah 8:10, he encouraged Israel by saying ‘…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ One of the agendas of Satan is to steal our joy either by dragging us into evil desires or by creating the circumstances of doubt. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he felt something was missing in his spiritual life. In his prayer of confession, David prayed to God, ‘restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me’ Psalm 51:11. The absence of God’s joy creates a vacuum in our lives, leading to frustration. To enjoy God’s immeasurable joy, Jesus expects us to obey His commandments which are summed up in ‘loving one another’ John 15:10-12. Living and caring for others is a part of the Christian life. The more we live for others, the more we attain God’s joy. While doing so, we grieve also. There is always a grieving space as we live in an ailing world. A ‘time to weep and time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’ Ecclesiastes 3:4-5. But we don’t grieve like gentiles because we have the inner joy that we receive from Christ, which strengthen us. Even our present bewilderment and grief is momentary, and soon it gets replaced by assurance and joy. In John 16:20, Jesus said, ‘very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, your grief will turn to joy. In John 17:13, Jesus prays for His disciples just before His crucifixion so that they may have the full measure of His joy. Jesus knew that He was about to suffer, which His disciples were unaware of, but He wanted to fill His immeasurable joy in them. We have a God who turns our mourning into dancing. He wipes away our tears and fills our mouths with laughter. Let us consider Jesus as the centre of our joy amid all life’s uncertainties as we pray and meditate during the Lenten season.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Richmond