Does what I know about what Jesus has done for me give me joy even in the midst of troubles? I wondered that as I read about Jesus' disciples returning to Jerusalem (after Jesus' ascension to heaven) "with great joy", and about how they "were continually in the temple praising God" (Luke 24:52-53). Considering the circumstances, and how the disciples must have wondered if they might be crucified next, it must have seemed strange to the casual observer to see them so happily visible in the very temple where Jesus had been recently tried and convicted by the Pharisees. I'm sure that anyone who knew about Jesus' crucifixion would have expected His disciples to be full of fear and worry rather than full of joy. And yet what they saw was a whole lot of joy after what seemed like a whole lot of bad.
But of course, Jesus' disciples could be joyfully praising God because they knew that Jesus was alive! And they knew what Jesus had accomplished by His death -- a great salvation! And the unusual joy and praise of the disciples must have been a significant part of their declaration of the Gospel to a people who would've expected them to be in fear and grief. "Why such joy?" people would've wondered.
My wife and I experienced grief in 2007 as we coped with news of the loss of Fiona's kidneys. But our story didn't end there. We also know that Jesus is alive! And we know what Jesus has accomplished on the cross -- a great salvation! So despite what periodic doctors' reports tell us, we can return from those appointments "with great joy" and "continually... praising God" because we've got more news than just what those doctors tell us! We can have joy that flies in the face of what the world around us would expect in such circumstances. And the world will see that we know One who is far above our circumstances, who is able to satisfy us despite circumstances, and who can even change the circumstances of those who cry out to Him! I want that joy everyday, and I know where to find it: it's found in the very Saviour who has given me good reason for it!
© 2010 by Ken Peters
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