Summary: Many emotions make an appearance in the Scriptures during Holy Week and only the resurrection of Christ brings their resolve.
Responses to the Resurrection: Joy
Mother Teresa once said, “Joy is prayer - Joy is strength - Joy is love - Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. … She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the risen Christ.”
There is not another emotional experience that quite rivals joy.
Many in our congregation are experiencing the unbridled joy that comes with being a new parent. Others of us remember that moment quite well. A week or so ago Matt * was trying to explain the feeling he got the first time he held his baby girl -- he just couldn’t quite find the words to do it. There were a lot of sighs, and smiles, and attempts but he could not articulate his joy even though he communicated it very well.
Other things bring surprising joy too.
Can you remember a time when you were overwhelmed by joy? The bliss cannot be explained fully can it?
• You finally land the dream job you’ve have been working toward
• You meet the love of your life
• You get good news - real good news - from a doctor about your spouse or child or parent
I remember one particular car accident that I helped work when I was in law enforcement. It involved a teen-aged boy. It was one of the worst accidents I have ever scene where no one was killed. I remember when mom and dad arrived on scene. There could not have been more of a sense of fear, panic, and desperation. They got out and began searching the wreckage scanning for their son. Then they saw him sitting on a curb next to another officer. Their son was alive and relatively unhurt. The switching of emotions that took place at that moment will never leave me. That couple went from utter despair to absolute euphoria! Mom and dad sprinted across the wreck scene and dove into the arms of their son. There was no holding back the joy they felt.
Again, think of a time or event when you experienced real joy. Is there anything better in the world?
God has given us a great gift when He gave us the potential to experience joy - it’s the “dessert” in the diet of emotions we experience.
The word joy means:
• Happiness over an unanticipated or present good
• It carries overtones of gladness, exuberance, and celebration
• On the spiritual level it refers to the extreme happiness with which the believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife. It is often expressed when unexpected benefits of faith are discovered.
Richard foster describes holy joy like this:
“Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. … It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. … Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. … The saints throughout the ages have witnessed to this reality.... You know, of course, that they are not speaking of a silly, superficial, bubbly kind of joy like that flaunted in modern society. No, this is a deep, resonant joy that has been shaped and tempered by the fires of suffering and sorrow; joy through the cross, joy because of the cross.”
God’s kingdom is described as "righteousness, peace and joy" (Rom 14:17) isn’t it? It is a descriptive trait of His Kingdom.
The Gospels use the word joy a lot ... a whole lot! One of the most illustrative might be when Luke places three parables about finding things in the same chapter: the lost sheep (15:3-7); the lost coin (15:8-10); and the lost son ( 15:11-32 ). In each case the response to the discovery is joy! Great joy! That is the shared emotional response that they all have in common after finding something ... or of being found.
Joy, in the sense we are looking at it today, arrives when God brings relief, rescue, resolution, resources, or redemption. All are reasons for joy and all find their nexus in the love of God.
For us, Good Friday is an opportunity for joy to be renewed. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Guess what … that “joy set before Him” ... IS YOU!