Gladness in Christ

Bob RoaneCounseling, Jesus Christ, Wise living

Sing to the LORD, you saints of His. Praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me. O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing. You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Psalm 30 portions)

God the Merrymaker

N.D. Wilson wrote an article in CT magazine with this title.1 He reminds us that God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is a joyful, happy God. The Lord rejoices in His creation and all His works of providence. God rejoices especially in rescuing, saving, and transforming men, women, girls, and boys. That’s what the Lord was doing all during Bible times and what He continues to do now.

God makes known to us the path of life and fills us with joy in His presence and with eternal pleasures at His right hand.2 And we Christians are to proclaim and bring God’s joy to others. We live and speak in this world on behalf of the Lord whose lightning lights up the world, who sends rain to water the earth and promote life. God feeds the birds of the air and the fish in the sea. All of His creatures point us up to the Lord our Maker and Master. Wilson reminds us that God made dolphins swim in the ocean, falcons who soar and dive, and a beagle in the back of a pickup truck, waving her tongue like a flag of joy.

We human beings are made in God’s image and likeness and should strive to imitate Him, including His joy. We must not let ourselves be overcome with rules, fears, and stressors. We must not live as if God were a long list of negatives. That makes our Lord and Savior unattractive to others and to us.

Wilson urges us to recapture the joy of God the Holy Spirit for ourselves and then share Him with the world. Jesus said: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them….by this He meant the Spirit.”3 Let’s be more like our God and speak of our joy and mean it, sing it, live it, and feel it deep down in our bones. Let Christ’s joy flood out from us into the lives of others.

Happy About the Big Things in Christ

G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) was an English writer and Christian philosopher. He wrote on Christian Joy in his book Orthodoxy (1908). Here are some gleanings from his work that I have paraphrased.

  • Joy should be fundamental (central) in Jesus’ followers and grief superficial (peripheral).
  • We are happy about the big, eternal things we have in Christ even when sad about lesser things.
  • Melancholy, pessimism, and brokenness should be rare emotions for us, not the rule.
  • Praise should be the permanent pulsation of our soul. 
  • Gladness is the way the Lord meant us to live.
  • Joy ought to be expansive and universal, not clinging to one little corner of our world.
  • Tears and terrors ought to be limited to occasional sad times, not our constant mood.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Don’t Miss Jesus

Chesterton said that non-Christians are born upside down and live topsy-turvy. They live for limited, lesser, aimless things. They miss Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.4 They miss God’s righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.5 Non-Christians live like Heaven is actually below Earth. They are standing on their heads, so they see everything wrong side up, backwards. God teaches in Ecclesiastes that everything is empty, false, futile, meaningless, and vanity apart from Christ. But God’s treasure vault above us is not empty just because people ignore the Lord.

Jesus is the King of heaven’s kingdom. He is like treasure hidden in a field. When a person found it, they were excited and joyfully sold all they had to buy that field. It was a bargain! Christ taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When they discovered a precious pearl of great value, they sold everything they owned and bought it!6

Turned Right Side up

When God the Holy Spirit enables us to turn from our sins and turn back to God, we find our feet again in Christ and He turns us right side up. Jesus satisfies us suddenly, perfectly, and supremely.  By His truth dwelling in us, joy becomes gigantic and sadness limited and small. Chesterton said that following Jesus is more thrilling, more cheerful, and more intellectually satisfying than rejecting Him and living without Him.

The Lord allows trials and troubles as a merciful interruption to wake us up to our need for Him. And also because the frantic energy of His unbroken blessing would overwhelm us. We should take our own tears more lightly knowing that our gladness in Heaven with Jesus will be unending. Job said: “The Lord will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”7

Sadness and sorrow are not to be the main substance of our lives, only the shadows. Cheerful and uplifting walking with Christ is to be the main thing. So let’s not obsess on darkness, death, pain, badness, sorrow, and suffering. Let’s focus on the Lord’s light, life, pleasure, goodness, joy, and blessing which cannot be taken away.8

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I give thanks to Him in song. (Psalm 28:7)

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 April 2014, p. 32.     2 Psalm 16:11.     3 John 7:38-39.      4 Col 2:3.     5 Rom 14:17.     6 Matt 13:44-46.     7 Job 8:21; also Psalm 126.     8 John 16:22.