Joy in this world must always be explored against the backdrop of sorrow. In 2 Corinthians 6:10, Paul describes the Christian journey with the striking phrase: “we are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” The true surprise in this paradox is that joy can be present at all in a world so wracked with pain. How can it be? Where does joy come from? How can it stand alongside sorrow?
Joy is not rooted in circumstance…if it were it would not exist alongside sorrow. Take a look at these texts.
- “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)
- “Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Master.” (Matt 25:23)
- “That my joy may be made full in you.” (John 15:11)
- “The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is…joy.”(Gal 5:22)
In each of these texts there is a joy that belongs to God. Did you notice that each text also describes the joy of each of the Triune Persons. We see joy belonging to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The joy of the Lord is always the joy of the Trinity. Our God is the Triune God—one eternal God existing in three persons. God is perfect community, perfect unity, the perfect experience and expression of emotion, the perfection of relationship. It is in the Triune community that joy exists in its purest form.
The joy of God first and foremost takes shape in mutual delight. Before creation, God was fully satisfied and fulfilled in his Triune existence. The three persons delighted in one another, loved one another and shared true joy. It was out of the overflow of their love and joy that creation came to be. We see this joy in one another bursting forth in the storyline of Scripture: the Father delighting in the Son, the Son delighting in the Spirit and the Father, the Spirit delighting in the Father and the Son.
The paradoxical overlap of sorrow and joy is also rooted in the experience of God. In Christ we see the fulness of God. In him we see the God of joy and yet, he is the “man of sorrows” (Is 53:3). We see rejoicing and we see weeping. We see celebration and we see lament. He perfectly embodied the journey of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 6:10).
Joy is located in the Triune God. He is truly the taproot, the fountainhead, the source of all joy. It only makes sense that the closer we get to the source of joy the more joy we will know. Proximity to God is the same as distance to joy. In the next post we will pick up and explore this dynamic.