“Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” – 2 Corinthians 6:10a
There is a joy that cannot be mustered up. No amount of self-effort is capable of bringing it about. Yet against all odds, it remains. It is a joy that is present when happiness is absent. It may be held inwardly even when it's too hard to express outwardly, for it is that kind of inexpressible joy that Peter describes when he writes to believers who have suffered loss under intense persecution, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you are grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6,8).
There is a joy that is not blind to reality. It recognizes and acknowledges sorrow but it is not ultimately overcome by it. It is a persevering joy! It is not a joy that comes to one naturally, but a supernatural working of grace in the heart. It is a fruit of the Spirit, a free gift, and it can't be imitated. It comes from knowing God in Christ Jesus, and it cannot be stolen or lost. This joy comes from knowing our biggest burden—the debt of sin—has been removed from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). It’s a joy of being reconciled to a holy and glorious God, and adopted as His children, by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
There is a joy that overflows in praise to God, even when we don't have the words. It is a joy that weathers many battles and suffers many losses. One might not even realize its true power until everything else we trust in is gone. But when Christ becomes everything, we can rejoice even in our heaviest trials because this joy is not rooted in the now, but in the already and the not yet. It is a joy anchored to what has happened and to what is coming. It rests in Him who was. It waits on Him who is, and it looks to Him who will be (Revelation 1:8).
O fellow traveler, if you don't feel this joy and inner triumph this season, if it feels too hard to smile, then remember His goodness, His love, His Word, and His faithfulness to keep it. Remember, He sees you. He knows you. He is with you. And He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). There is a joy that Jesus offers to us in every season of life. It is Him!