Jeremiah 31:13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.”
In this season of Christmas, my thoughts are drawn to the greatest gift that has ever been given. The advent of the Messiah marked the dawn of a new age, the dispensation of grace fell upon the world in the form of a child who came for the purpose of giving His life for the world.
When the Father gave us His Son, it was by His grace that we were offered eternal life. For those who have been called and responded to that call, true joy has been imparted to them.
When we consider the millions of people who have trusted in Christ, history may look a little different from an outside perspective. For those who haven’t experienced the infilling work of Christ’s Spirit in their lives, a look into the history of following Jesus may not seem too appealing.
A recent publication from Voice of the Martyrs, gives a current perspective for many people who proclaim Jesus as Lord and King.
“Christians in Nigeria are no strangers to persecution. Violent attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani Islamic militants have affected families and churches, leaving many Christians without spouses, parents and homes.”
This narrative is common in countries throughout the world today, but it is not uncommon in the history of the church. From Jesus, to the disciples, to many who have gone forth and proclaimed the gospel, the world has hated the message and many who have proclaimed God’s truth have died for their faith.
So where is the comfort and joy?
- For the christians in North Korea who can’t even tell family members about their faith, where is the comfort and joy?
- For believers in North Sudan or Nigeria, scattered and slaughtered for their confession of faith, where is the comfort and joy?
- For those faithful believers in China who have to secretly meet in homes and businesses for fear of arrest, where is the comfort and joy?
John 15:9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have 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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full.“
The ones who have gone before us and the ones who live under persecution today, know the joy of the Lord for a reason…
Joy is not from an external source but comes from within.
The Joy of the Lord
Joy is a topic that carries with it an air of mystery for the world. Great pleasure and happiness can be experienced in a multitude of ways but joy goes much deeper.
Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever shout for joy. May You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”
The joy of the Lord carries with it a satisfaction of His abiding presence. Joy wells up in the heart of the redeemed and spills forth into realms of exaltation and praise. When joy resides in the heart, all external attempts at stealing that joy fall helpless in futility.
The redeemed of the Lord find themselves throughout the world in poverty, in chains, in forced labor, despised by men, shunned from families, and given over to execution. In every trial and tumult, the evidence of resounding joy rings forth.
Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
For those who walk in Christ, the obedience of the faithful leads them in God’s strength and that strength is found in joy. It is with joy that those of the light share the gospel with the lost. It is with joy when the journey is long and arduous, the patient pilgrim presses on in God’s strength.
What comfort do we gain from following Christ?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
When we receive the compassion of God and He comforts us in our tribulations, we are given tools by which to comfort others. The Lord equips His people and supplies them with everything necessary for life and godliness.
Comfort is peace in the midst of trouble.
Have you ever witnessed someone as they were going through a major life changing moment only to witness them living in peace?
The one who can have peace in the midst of suffering understands how to abide in Christ.
John 14:23-24 “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Comfort and Peace doesn’t come naturally, it is divinely given. We have a responsibility in how we live, we can’t live in sin and hope to experience peace. Peace comes by way of obedience and obedience by the Word of God.
Christians also can’t just hide away in hopeful anticipation of Christ’s return, a life without sharing the light of Christ is one that turns sour very quickly.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”John Shedd
John 14:25-27 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Peace is offered up by way of the Holy Spirit, He instructs in the way we should go and that path leads us to Him.
During this season of advent, we are reminded of the arrival of the newborn King 2000 years ago which brought a glorious chorus of angels in the heavens, singing of this peace we now have.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:13-14
Comfort and Joy comes by way of the Savior and His love is offered to all who would believe.
Today, if you have known the fullness of joy in Christ, if you have experienced the comfort of His love, then let others know who haven’t been as fortunate as you.
There is no greater gift we can give than to share Jesus with others.