In the early 1960’s, from the pulpit at Westminster Chapel in London, the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a series of twenty-one sermons on consecutive Sunday mornings entitled Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures. Those sermons were transcribed, edited and put into book form in 1964. It’s an excellent and very helpful book. I have read portions of it many times over the years.
Lloyd-Jones believed very much that a “revived and joyful Church” is the greatest need of our time. He wrote, ”Unhappy Christians are, to say the least, a poor recommendation for the Christian faith; and there can be little doubt but that the exhuberant joy of the early Christians was one of the most potent factors in the spread of Christianity.” To be joyless, according to Lloyd-Jones, is to be a bad evangelist–a poor advertisement for the grace and mercy of God. John Piper echoed this sentiment recently when he wrote: “The one who knows and rests in the sovereign grace of God should be the happiest saint. Don’t be a sour or glum or hostile false advertisement for the glory of God’s grace. Praise it. Rejoice in it.”
Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give the appearance of unhappiness and lack of freedom and absence of joy. There is no question at all but that this is the main reason why large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity.
God used these convicting lines from Lloyd-Jones to remind me that regardless of how difficult life becomes, Christians are to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). The Gospel makes it possible to suffer with a smile because in Christ, all that we need we have.
We may endure the difficulty and pain and loss that accompanies life in this broken world with joy and thanksgiving because the Father “has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgivenss of sins” (Col. 1:12-14). God plus nothing equals everything; everything minus God equals nothing.