God’s eternal experience of love results in a constant state of joy. God is “the blessed God” (1 Timothy 6:15). This joy springs from God’s delight in the self-giving, mutual, shared love and life of Father, Son, and Spirit. How could such a relationship not bring joy?
As with his love, God invites us to share his joy. This joy was the constant experience of Jesus during his earthly ministry. In the face of certain doom, God’s joy sustained and carried him. On the night before his crucifixion, he called his disciples to share his joy – the divine joy: “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:9-11). In his high priestly prayer, he made this request to the Father, “But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves.” (John 17:13)
C. S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is
the serious business of heaven.”
God takes joy seriously. It is not a marginal experience for God. It is the passionate overflow of delight and desire between Father, Son, and Spirit.
Unlike happiness, joy is not rooted in circumstances. It is rooted in our relationship with God. In God, joy is an unchanging reality because the shared life and love between Father, Son, and Spirit never grows old or dies out. The eternal reality of divine love and life is the eternal basis for unending joy and delight: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16); “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
The joy of God is not superficial, but deep. It is a joy that persists in the presence of trials, suffering, and even sorrow. These negative experiences come and go. Though difficult to endure, they do not remove or negate the glorious presence of God in our lives. As such, we continue to rejoice in spite of our suffering and sorrow. “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
–Richard J. Vincent