Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.
What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
I think sometimes that enduring joy is simply accepting in our own lives that Paul’s remark in Romans 8.28 is literally true. It may seem odd to us, but if we let him, if we choose to trust, God will lead us into that truth.
I say this in all trepidation, since there are things in some people’s lives (there have been some in mine) that truly cannot by any human standards be said to be good, and I am not saying for a minute that we should by some spiritual sleight of hand attempt to say that they are. But God will, in the end, work in all things to bring that promise to pass.
It is a weak and sentimental Christianity that plants roses at the foot of the Cross; yet in the worst that evil could do, in the final triumph of all that is cruel and perverse and heartless, Christ was able to put to death death itself. “…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53.5 NIV)
This is hope. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12.12 NIV)