Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
I never realised this in the early years of my Christian life. Strangely, it was not until I had followed Christ long enough to become “familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53.3), until I could say with the writer of Psalm 119 that “it was good for me to be afflicted” (vv. 67-71) that I realised the truth of what Peterson is saying here. But it is true, every word of it; and the joy of Christ is a joy no-one can take away… As Paul says,
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.