Sunday, December 4, 2011

JOY

~Please Take a Break and Listen to this Video~


Joy is one of those words that we think we know the definition, but we often do not. It reminds me of when the Supreme Court was discussing the question of pornography. One Justice said, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." For you more conservative readers out there - I am not writing on the joy of pornography; but rather that joy is difficult to define. Joy is far deeper than happiness. Joy persists through times of pain and hurt. Happiness is fleeting and is often replaced with sadness - joy is within us and is tied to our view of life. I picked a picture of joy carved in stone to reinforce the stability of joy.

For Christians, joy is tied to our view of Heaven and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ - the parousia:

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown of boasting before the Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." 
1 Thessalonians 2:19- 20 - (ESV)

It was this joy that allowed early Christians to endure terrible suffering, torture and even martyrdom. Their view of life was that even though everything in and including their lives was being torn away, they were still loved and by faith would see God in the next life.

Additionally, while writing the Letter to the Philippians, Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting his trial and eventual execution. Yet he speaks of joy throughout this letter. His reason is found in:


" What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes by faith. 
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship in sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attain to the resurrection from the dead
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, 
but I press on to take hold of that 
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."   
Philippians 3:8-12 - (NIV)

The idea of having a fellowship, (koinonia - commonality), with Jesus' suffering in addition to the hope of eternity with God; allowed early Christians to see past the present struggles to a bright future. Now before a skeptic decides I am advocating some sort of masochistic ascetic lifestyle - I am not. 

What I am saying is that whatever your view of life, it has to see hope on the horizon. Joy is an inner contentment that survives all of the garbage this world throws at us. We are currently on the verge of a serious monetary meltdown. People have lost jobs, homes and families. The Tea Party people and the 99% have one thing in common - they are angry. This too will pass. In the midst of pain, from unemployment, divorce, death of a loved one, foreclosure, bankruptcy or the general global unrest - you need joy to sustain you.


Joy allows you to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other because there is somewhere you are headed. In that, you are content. Hurt, pain and struggles will always be with us. However, so will sunsets, children laughing, love, faithful dogs, grandchildren,  and something in your life that makes it worth living. Even if you are at the bottom of the darkest hole in your life, pull yourself up to the edge and look to the horizon - I hope you see joy.

Peace & Joy
~Al

P.S. Shortly after the Berlin Wall was torn down a combined choir made up of those from East and West Germany sang Beethoven's, Ode to Joy. It was conducted by a Jewish conductor. Now admittedly, this is not that version, but I thought I might bring a smile to your face.