By Rev. Eric Brown
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22)
Jesus never says that Christians will always be “happy.” Quite the opposite! Jesus tells the disciples that they will have sorrow, that in fact the world will rejoice over the things that cause them sorrow. Now, this directly refers to the crucifixion – but it applies to us today far too often. Just think how often sin and hurt and pain cause you sorrow, all the while others laugh and rejoice at you.
Jesus never says that you will be happy all the time in this life. Satan and the world and your own sinful flesh conspire to make you miserable. But He does make a promise. He promises the disciples that they will see Him and they will have joy, a joy that cannot be taken away. And they saw Him after the resurrection; and they do have joy. Even though there is still fear, even though they are confused.
Joy is not happiness. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). It is that gift that the Spirit works in you, to where even in the midst of all the junk in your life, all the horrors and sorrows that Satan loves to throw in your face, you see Christ. You see Christ in His Word, in His Sacraments, in His forgiveness spoken to you, and thus you know that all this junk Satan throws at you won't stick. Jesus has risen from the dead, and so shall you – and no one can take that from you. Joy not mere happiness – it not an internal emotion that may rise or fall. It is joy IN Christ, it is joy over the Truth. This joy is seeing His Light even in the middle of terrible darkness, and knowing that the darkness has not overcome Him, and because of Jesus, it cannot overcome you, for you are His. You have joy in Christ, and no one can take from you. Why? Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia. God grant that by His Word and Spirit, we evermore see this truth that our joy may be ever full!
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: May 5th, 2017