“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”
Delight, jubilation, exultation, happiness, gladness, exuberance, elation, ecstasy…these are but a few adjectives for joy! There are several hundred references to ‘joy’ in scripture (depending on the Bible translation). For fun, look up the following passages: Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 16:11; Luke 2:10; Romans 15:13. A Concordance (which lists important words in a text; or online see BibleGateway.com) can provide more examples.
But, it is not difficult to find shadowy, violent and frightening places and spaces, actions and activities, attitudes and ignorance in our world. It’s also very possible that you do not have to reflect too profoundly on your own life and the lives of people close to you, for the sadder, more distressing circumstances to come to the fore…grief, loss, illness, brokenness and fatigue. ‘Happiness’ may not be the operative term.
Perhaps, even in the midst of our own dark nights, however, there can still be joy. Consider the joy of memories of loved ones, the hope of opportunities to move beyond the past into a different, brighter and healthier future, the pleasure of offering thanksgiving for the healing that the Christ who ‘loves with a wounded’ heart, can bring, and the experience of the grace and peace with which God embraces us. Reflect also on how witnessing the joy others celebrate can bring a smile to our lips, a lifting of our spirits! That list is endless: the union of two souls in marriage; the birth of a child; the culmination of a course of study or a career; the joy of a job that is satisfying and meaningful. And all these blessed in the joy, whatever our life scenario,that is the presence and the power of our Saviour in our lives.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4