Dear Creator Family –
“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
One of my favorite verses in scripture, to be sure—for all seasons, as it calls us away from the worries, distractions, and woes of the day to the provision of our Lord, in whom we can draw comfort and strength to greet the day. Each and every day.
This is our second observance of Lent in a pandemic. Though the spring sunshine, positive news reports and advance of the vaccine into our circles and wider community make a huge difference, we are still struggling with a life deeply changed and not likely to “spring forward” with full abandon any time soon. How long will masks and distancing be with us? How long will our ventures into the world be curtailed, our gatherings controlled and even still cancelled or postponed? Perhaps you have work or living situations permanently altered because of this time. We plead with the Psalmist: “How long, LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (13:1).
They say the only constant is change. Hard truth, that. Christians know that the only constant is God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, whose abiding and steadfast love for us is without change or end. Thus, the theme I chose for our 40 days together is significant. We are studying “Joy” in Lent not just to “cheer up” a dark, dreary time of waiting, but to acknowledge and access that deepest joy of a God who loves with unchecked abandon.
This week, I’m providing some resources for you to deepen and enrich your personal study on the topic of Joy. To start with, the Bible is filled with instances and uses of the short but powerful word. Some of the most loved and familiar scriptures are included here—many from the Psalms (no surprise!). A quick consult says that the word “joy” appears 155 times in the King James Version. Another source reports that the term appears 88 times in the Old Testament in 22 books and 57 times in the New Testament in 18 books. Clearly, there is a lot of joy in the Bible! Like the Eskimo people and their “snow,” the Hebrews had 15 different terms to express joy. So, then, should we. Starting with the word “today.”
Of all bible verses about joy, perhaps no passage speaks to the joy of remembering better than in Hebrews 12.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3.
You can use the list below however you like. The verses can be read and repeated throughout the day, to keep scripture close to your thoughts and lips. There are books listed on the topic of “joy,” as well. The quotes could inspire you and those you encounter throughout the day. Pass them on – share them – share the joy you know about what is to happen, once again, in our changing, chance-filled lives: the God of all Creation is going to save it out of pure love. Now that is a joyous thing!
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
“For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Isaiah 35:10
“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13
“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” Psalm 32:11
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Frederick Buechner
“He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sun rise.” William Blake
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” Rumi
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” Karl Barth
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore
“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater. But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Mark Twain
Father Bill Burk†