The Joyous Journey Home

Contemplations concerning the infinite and eternal joy that is to be found when one delights in Jesus Christ.

Why Joy?

January 15, 2019

What brings you joy in life? Seriously stop whatever you're doing (even if 'whatever you're doing' is reading this) and consider that question. What brings you joy in life?

Maybe that question was too ethereal. Let's try something a bit more tangible. Typically, the thing that brings you most joy in life is what you most often desire to do when you aren't under various obligations. Or, the person that brings you most joy in life is typically the one you desire to be around most. If you spend most of your free time riding your Harley, hiking, or shopping, chances are one of those activities is what you find makes you most joy-filled. If you spend most of your free-time with your spouse or significant other, chances are that person is who fills you with the most joy.

It may be a person or an activity that presently gives you the most joy in your life at this time. But is the joy being produced by him, her, or it, comparable to the infinite and eternal joy found in Jesus Christ? 

As humans, we desire pleasure. If something hurts we normally won't continue to indulge ourselves in it, unless we view the pain as a means to a greater end. An end that, we believe, will produce a greater joy within us.

Consider a mother who's willing to go through the arduous pain of childbirth. If you were to ask any sane woman whether or not she enjoyed labor, she would most assuredly say "no" with one caveat. She would probably say something along the lines of, "No, I didn't enjoy labor, but it was definitely worth it." 

Why? Why is the unbelievable pain of labor worth the suffering? Does suffering alone have the capability to produce joy? I find that question difficult to affirm.

Even Christ didn't delight in the cross for the sake of the cross. Concerning Jesus, Hebrews 12:2b says, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." The text says that He endured the cross. It does not say that he enjoyed it. The chapter even goes on to testify, "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Again, the suffering (or discipline) isn't where the peaceful fruit of righteousness is found. 

It's only afterwards.

Suffering itself does not produce joy. the one factor that determines whether or not someone will be able to find joy through suffering is the focus of their gaze. Jesus was able to look toward the "joy that was set before Him." This joyous anticipation of everything that would be accomplished through the cross--namely, the glory of God--gave Jesus, even during present suffering, a present joy for a future reality.

But He was only able to have this present joy through present suffering because He was focused on the joyous future reality that would come by, through, and from His suffering! 

If you can grasp with your right hand the biblical truth that God works all things after the counsel of His own will, and then reach out your left hand and seize the truth that God "works all things together for good to those who love God: to those who are the called according to His purpose," you will become immoveable even during the fiercest gale. You'll begin to realize that all of the suffering you're presently going through is working for you "an eternal weight of glory." 

Your gaze will no longer dart to and fro at the turbulent wind and waves around you, because it will be focused solely on Jesus, the source of infinite and eternal joy.