In our reunion group meeting today, one of the members told us about the person who she thought, in her life, was closest to Christ. If I remember correctly, it was her cousin. Her cousin has a myriad of illnesses -- chronic and painful, and yet is, according to D, always happy -- joyful. She walks with God in her life.
I mentioned before that on the Emmaus walk a couple of weeks ago, I sat at the table of Joy. Joy -- yes -- these women had it. It wasn't that their lives were happy all the time. Together, the five of them had lost 20 family members to death in recent years. One had had a scare with cancer (blessedly benign). None of them were strangers to tumoil, and yet all of them knew God, and were, literally and figuratively, sitting at the table of Joy.
And another one:
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8)
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12)The John 15 scripture is found in the discussions at the Last Supper. Jesus told his disciples that their joy would be complete the evening before he was crucified. They certainly wouldn' t be happy, but he was promising them that their joy would be complete.
It's not an emotion, like happy. Joy is abiding. Joy is a response to the presence of God.
Image: The VA hillside sometime this summer. I may actually have used this photo before, but I like it.
Note added the next day: I fell asleep writing this post -- I'll probably go back and write a "Part Two" at some time.