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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meditation On Facets Of Joy

Like a diamond, joy has many facets that can be seen only by examining its many sides. Joy, according to C.S. Lewis, is quite opaque to evil and the evil one, because all evil is baffled and offended by the essence of joy.

Joy is the result of truth. Joy is the “gigantic secret” of God (G.K. Chesterton) that the world could never have expected, but it clears the air so that we see things as they really are.

Joy causes celebration. Gladness and song go with joy; the slightest witticisms cause laughter when joy is present. There’s energy in joy that cures fatigue and discouragement. This is what James says in his letter to churches that face persecution: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2)

Joy has a rhythm. Jesus unites peace with joy in his Thursday night discourse. Joy is a quietness as much as an exuberance. Together the two create a fundamental rhythm.

Joy is presence. It describes our relationship with God. Joy comes from knowing the Lord and knowing that the Lord is nearby. In the New Testament, joy is related to prayer and friendship with God. Jesus invites his disciples to pray so their joy might be full (John 15:11–17).

Joy is a protection. Laughter can be a sign of the dignity and resilience of brave hearts in the face of danger.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s story The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and his friend Sam Gamgee laugh out loud high on the dangerous reaches of the dark tower where laughter had never been heard. Their laughter causes quakes on the mountain that had so long been under the oppressive control of evil. Their laughter was defiant, innocent, and profoundly good at the same moment. It was good because it had its source in joy, and that made it powerful as well as destructive against the powers of evil.

Evil cannot understand joy. The devil is more austere and serious than God is, which makes us stop and think that if we are to feel at home in heaven, we will need to enjoy joy because “joy is the serious business of heaven” (G.K. Chesterton).


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