We can have joy, because we can know God’s strength in our weakness. Because God’s mercies are new every morning. Because as we walk through this valley of this shadow of death, we are never abandoned or alone. Our God goes before us, and He is behind us, around us, and within us.
We can have joy, no matter what sorrow or suffering we are currently enduring, because we have been chosen by the Father and He will never turn His face away. We are loved. Forever. And nothing can ever separate us from that love.
We can have joy because we are engraved on our Father’s heart and on Jesus’ nail-scarred hands, and in Christ we are victorious. The suffering doesn’t have the final say. In fact, God is going to use it for even more good to come into our lives.
James 1:2–4 tells us to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
God is growing us up. He is committed to making us the mature bride of Christ:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3–5 NASB)
The sorrow and grief that come are real, and we have a God who is well acquainted with them. He doesn’t ask us to ignore our grief but to invite Him into it that we might bear it together.
No matter what, we can know an internal defiant joy because death has been defeated. Life has won. There is suffering, yes. But always there is the potential for joy.
In the face of the ultimate reality won for us by Jesus, we don’t have to pretend that life is better than it is, that we don’t hurt as much as we do, or that we feel happy when we are not. We are invited to be fully alive, awake, alert, and oriented to the truth, and to know that because of Jesus, we can be defiantly joyful.