2 | Joy That Nobody Can Take
'Tis the Season to be JOYFUL! Today, Lucy will help us explore the incredible and unfailing promise of joy that Jesus says no one can take away from us! Love, MP team xx
I wonder if you can recall the time in your life when you felt your happiest? Can you remember that exact moment when your heart was so filled with joy, that you thought it would burst? That feeling of joy feels invincible. You feel like you’ll never be sad again. But we all know that that isn’t true. I remember the moment when I first became a Christian, when I was 9 years old, singing to God on camp and truly meaning it for the first time. I’ve never felt a joy so pure and so strong! Yet, the very next day, my heart was filled with sadness at the prospect of leaving camp, and returning to the ‘real world’ and my friends at school who didn’t know this joy for themselves. The joy the day before that had felt so real and so inextinguishable had suddenly faded. My joy had been taken away.
Yet in John 16, Jesus promises a joy that “no one will take” from you. In this chapter, Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. He’s explaining to them that he’s going to leave them, causing them to weep and lament. He’s preceded this news with explaining how the world will hate them (chapter 15 v 18-27) because it hated him first. He’s promising his dearest friends that they will face death and persecution for following him. What Jesus is saying doesn’t sound very joyful at all! Not only has he broken the news that he will be leaving them, but the world he is leaving them to will hate them.
Yet Jesus doesn’t leave them in their sorrow. He leaves them with a promise.
In verse 20, Jesus tells them that for now they will weep and lament. That whilst they wait for Jesus to return, times will be hard. He compares it to a woman in labour – a thought which I’m sure makes many of you wince! A woman giving birth is sorrowful in her pain, just as the disciples are going to be sorrowful now. But there is hope. The moment when a woman gives birth, when she holds her newborn in her arms – flesh of her flesh – and finally looks into the child’s eyes whom she has carried in her body for 9 months, that’s the moment when her sorrow turns to joy. She forgets all the pain of labour, as the bliss of finally having that baby in her arms extinguishes it, and instead her heart is filled with joy. It’s a moment better than this that Jesus promises to his disciples, and he promises it to us too.
Whilst this present time, where we eagerly await the return of Christ, is filled with pain and sorrow, there will come a moment when that sorrow will be turned to joy. A moment when our grieving hearts will be so filled with joy, we will be fit to burst with happiness. Remember that moment when you felt the happiest you’ve ever been. This moment will be better. Because the moment that Jesus is talking about is his return. The moment when our sorrow is turned to joy is the day when Jesus comes back to earth and we are reunited with him and our heavenly father.
On that day, there will be no sorrow in our hearts. There will be only joy.
But not only is Jesus promising us future joy. He is promising us a future joy which no one can take away. This is a joy that is indestructible. It is unchanging. It is unfading. Our hearts will never lose this joy. There will be no ‘day after’ when suddenly we remember the cares of the earth and we feel sorrow again. The joy of the return of Christ will be a joy that will never diminish.
So how should knowledge of this unfading joy change us? Well, as we face earthly pain and suffering, and as we endure persecution and hardship for trusting in Jesus, we should keep our eyes fixed on this promised finish line. I’m a rower, and when we’re racing, the voice in my head is constantly telling me to give up. It tells me that the pain is too great, that I can’t keep going. Yet the moment when my cox yells that she can see the finish line, that the end flag is in sight, that’s the moment when I stop listening to that voice and become certain that I can finish the race – no matter the pain. Jesus’ promise of our sorrow turning to never-ending joy is like that call, reminding you that the finish line is in sight. The day when the pain will end is approaching. So be certain that you can keep going. Jesus has said that whilst the journey is hard – and it will be hard, he promises that – that a certain and sure day is coming when all that sorrow becomes joy.
Picture for me the day when Jesus returns. Imagine standing next to your brother – Jesus – finally reunited with him who died for your sin. The man who gave his life because he loved you. The man who faced excruciating pain to rescue you. Now imagine the overwhelming joy that will fill your heart as you are finally stood next to him whom you love most.
That is the joy that no-one will be able to take from you.
Now run the race with eyes fixed upon it, and hearts eagerly awaiting it.
My name is Lucy Davenport, I'm a second year studying English literature at Durham University. Jesus lover, keen rower and flip flop wearer