Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory! Peter 1:8
My mother is the reason there is any culture in my life at all. She has always been a lover of music, a fairly diverse music lover. We had albums of Negro spirituals and Frank Sinatra, jazz (the real stuff like Miles Davis) and R & B. Any of those could be heard in our home or car. As a result my taste in music is fairly broad.
One piece my mother loved to play on piano was Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. It is part of a cantata written by Bach. The lyrics were based on a German hymn written by Martin Janus in 1661 the year before he died(according to Wikipedia). Janus suffered upheaval from his home at least twice and long periods of unemployment. Knowing that sheds a different light on his words.
Jesus remains my joy,
my hearts consolation and sap,
Jesus protects me from all suffering,
he is the strength of my life,
the delight and sun of my eyes,
the treasure and bliss of my soul;
therefore I do not abandon Jesus
from my heart and face.
This verse stood out to me as I read the lyrics. Even at the end of a tumultuous life, he could still say Jesus was his joy and he would not abandon Jesus. Perhaps like James, Janus considered his suffering pure joy. In contrast, Anita Baker sang a song in the mid ’80’s about joy. All those years ago when I sang along it was not God I thought would bring me joy but a man.
What a lot of pressure to place on another human. Our joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit and I think we will only be truly fulfilled if we look to the trinity for our joy. When my husband and I were finally pregnant with the daughter we prayed for, he selected her first name. I was allowed to pick her middle name and knew it would be one from the Bible.
One day while waiting an eternity in a beauty shop, I perused the new testament looking for the perfect name. I wish I could say I remember the exact verse the name came from, but I can’t. What I know is that I chose Joy.
And she is just that – a joy. She is a teenager now and even on the tough days when we bump heads and hearts, I can choose to ask the Holy Spirit to show me joy unspeakable and full of His glory.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24
“Christian joy is no mere gaiety that knows no gloom, but is the result of the triumph of faith over adverse and trying circumstances, which, instead of hindering, actually enhance it.” D. Edwards Blue Letter Bible. Who brings you joy? Selah…
Your Turn: Have you ever placed your joy in the hands of another human being? What was the outcome? Share with us in the comments. Breath on Paper