Joy -- more than pleasure
"... I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (v.22)
One of the reasons why so many Christians do not experience the delights of spiritual joy is because they do not expect to. A woman who came into the experience of Christian conversion: "Strange, but I never associated joy with God before." How sad that many do not expect their faith
to make them basically and fully joyful now. They think that joy is reserved for the hereafter. Our Lord pointed out to the disciples that it was for the present.
We can better understand this supernatural joy if we distinguish it from the pleasures of life with which it is sometimes confused. Spiritual or supernatural joy is quite different from pleasure or happiness. A worldling can experience pleasure and happiness but he cannot experience supernatural joy. Indeed, worldly people often pride themselves in knowing how to experience pleasure. Yet pleasure and Christian joy cannot be equated. Look with me at some of the differences. Pleasure depends on circumstances. It requires a measure of health and wealth. It demands that the life conditions be kindly and thus it can be stolen from us by things like lack of money -- or even a toothache.
Christian joy is completely independent of circumstances. It is there in the believer even when "strength and health and friends" are gone; when circumstances are not only unkind but savage. Out of all the miracles I have witnessed in my life, none is more wonderful than the miracle of seeing Christ's exuberant joy burst forth in those who are caught up in pain or persecution. The springs of Christian joy are deep within and can exist, no matter what the circumstances.
O Father, how can I thank You enough for imparting into my sadness Your unconquerable gladness. No matter what happens -- all is well with my soul. I am so grateful. Amen.
For Further Study
1. How did the apostles respond to persecution?
2. How did Paul express it?