“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” John 16:22
In sharing with His disciples that He would be going to be with His heavenly Father, Jesus understood that they would experience sorrow, but also reassured them that He would see them again. At that time, He also spoke to them saying, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” There are powerful references in scripture to the ‘Joy of the Lord’ – Nehemiah told his people, “Don’t be dejected and grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Speaking further regarding true joy, Jesus says to His disciples in John 15:5, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John Piper comments on the ‘Fullness of God’s Joy,’ paraphrasing Jesus, “The reason your joy can now be as full as it is and moving toward perfect fullness when all our battle with sin is over is because in union with me, the branch in the vine, you no longer enjoy merely your joy. You now have my joy in you and you enjoy what I enjoy as your joy, as you abide in me.”
The ‘Joy of the Lord’ is being at peace and enjoying a close relationship with the Lord by believing and walking in His truth and promises, regardless of our outward or inward circumstances. Hope (true hope in God and His truth) arises out of the joy we find in the Lord. Hope endures out of true joy as we remain in closeness to the Lord. Hope lasts forever because of the joy we hold onto in the Lord. However, this True Joy is only available to us if we are identified with Christ through salvation and are walking closely with Him. A half-hearted relationship here will not be enough to sustain hope – we must “abide” or remain in Him daily through prayer, scripture meditation, and have our ‘spiritual eyes’ set on Him. Hebrews 12:1-2 remind us of the amazing power of hope and joy displayed in Jesus’ journey through ministry, suffering, and ultimately our redemption through His death, burial, and resurrection. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As we see in Hebrews, the power of the Joy of the Lord is immense, all consuming, and able to endure. For many of us, “the race set before us” happens to involve a journey through anxiety, depression, and/or the heaviness of life, yet we are not somehow disqualified from experiencing true joy in the Lord. If you are running this type of race with endurance, looking unto Jesus’ there will be times when the way is unclear and the fog has set in with the struggles of your mind and body, blurring your vision of Jesus. However, it is in these times which we hold onto the joy of the Lord through His promises – and we “wait on the Lord to renew our strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, thank You for promising us that sorrow will not last forever, and that we can have true joy and hope found in close relationship with You. Help us to lean into you today with small steps of obedience, clinging to You in prayer and speaking Your truth into our circumstances. Thank you for the Fullness of Joy we can have in You and the promise that no one can take that away. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.