John 15:9-17

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Surprised by Joy

Hope For All Times

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

Has there ever been a moment when, all circumstances to the contrary, you were caught off guard by overwhelming joy? C.S. Lewis described his experience of joy through his journey from atheism to faith in Jesus in his autobiographical work, Surprised by Joy. In those pages he wrote that he never expected any connection between God and joy—in fact, he tended to think just the opposite. He figured God might even demand of him the total rejection of what he thought was joy. Instead he discovered that true joy was not an emotion but a way of being and a state of mind that is available to everybody. It was not found in things or circumstances but was experienced in a Person and Lewis was surprised by it.

Embedded between an imperative to “remain in His love” and the command to “love each other” Jesus planted a significant statement about joy, “my joy in you, and your joy complete.” The joy of which Christ spoke was the joy He possessed in the consciousness of His love toward the Father and the Father’s love towards Him. The brightness of that joy lit up the darkest hour of His own human journey and He willed it to light up theirs as well. In the consciousness of their love to God and God’s love to them, there would be in them, as part of their true life, joy that no sorrow could ever overcome. This joy in its fullest measure would supply satisfaction to the deepest desires of their being. Jesus implanted in them the true nature of joy and because they knew joy by other names, they were surprised by it.