Reflections on Joy

I'm preaching this Sunday morning on joy. A couple of things struck me as I was reading some of the many texts in the Bible that stress joy. First, joy is never really and encouraged suggested like, "You just need to try to be more joyful." Joy is COMMANDED. Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" You can almost see Paul here as a drill sergeant barking orders, "Rejoice in Lord always; I'll say it again, 'Get some joy!'" That's a command. That sounds way too much like my Dad saying, "You will eat your Brussels sprouts and you will like them." (I ate them, and they weren't bad!). Can you really command someone to be joyful. God evidently things so!

Second, joy is often spoken of along side times of pain, struggle and loss. Jesus promised that the apostles that despite the difficulty of the coming cross, their joy would restored in Him, "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16:22). The example Jesus uses is that of having a baby (John 16:21). There is great pain in childbirth, but then that pain is overwhelmed by joy when the baby is held in the mother's arms. So sometimes we must go through great sorrow, but that sorrow cannot overwhelm our joy. Jesus says, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24).

Jesus wants us to know that joy and sorrow are never completely incompatible. Our faith that God is working in our struggle in ways that we don't understand at the moment means that we can know His joy even in the middle of the storm. He doesn't always stop the rain, but He always assures us that He is there with us. Because He is with us and assures us that He will make our joy complete, we can praise Him in the storm.