My church's mid week discipleship program started up again last night. The session this time focuses on joy. I'll be teaching in a few weeks, on joy in and through suffering; my favorite topic!
The first class talked a bit about what joy -is-, and what it is not.
During this discussion, someone asked about holy laughter, perhaps in response to the stories that DiDi and I have been telling from our trip.
I thought about this laughter, the sudden unleashing of inexplicable joy that bubbles up uncontrollably, pure gift from the Holy Spirit. A quick taste of the joy of heaven.
And I wondered if Joseph and Mary's household was given this gift. Did Jesus' home ring with the sound of this infectious joy?
The joy we pursue and the joy we embrace in Jesus Christ is always—always in this world—interwoven with sorrow. There is no unadulterated joy in this world for people who care about others. The Bible describes Christ’s servants like this: “[We are] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
“Sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” How can that be? It can be because Christ is supreme over all things forever, but suffering and death remain for a while. Life is not simple. There is pleasure, and there is pain. There is sweetness, and there is bitter suffering. There is joy, and there is misery. There is life and health, and there is disease and death. And therefore emotions are not simple. For those who love others, and not just their own comforts, this complexity means that we will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). And there is always someone we know who is weeping, and someone we know who is rejoicing. And therefore we will learn the secret of “sorrowful yet always rejoicing”—and joyful yet always sorrowing. Those amazing words that describe the Christian soul—“sorrowful yet always rejoicing”—mean that suffering remains for a while in this world, but Christ is supreme now and forever.
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