“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.” C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
There are few words as misunderstood as the word joy. It is many things, but joy is not a three-letter synonym for happy. Joy is a contradiction. It perfectly encapsulates the tension of the Christ-follower who both loves this world and longs for eternity. All joy in this life is but a shadow of what we will experience in the throne room of God, and all suffering points us to the Kingdom we were created for that has no place for tears or pain.
Scripture has much to say about joy. In a quick search of verses on joy, the following provides a bit of an overview of what I learned. Joy is commonly associated with artistic outpouring in song and in the satisfaction felt after a rich feast. So powerful is joy, that it can animate creation which lacks the breath of God! Joy is found in both obedience and in presence. It originates from God. It is paired with strength, majesty, and glory. Joy can be both spontaneous and desperately searched for. Joy is found in God’s words and in the good news of Christ. A joyful heart cannot be silent; it is message must be shared. A joyful servant cannot walk – she is compelled to run with the good news announced to her. Joy can be experienced in brokenness, alongside sorrow, and in spite of fear. Just as Christ endured the horror of the cross because of the joy that was to come, so can we share in the eternal perspective to see through, and far beyond, our current sufferings.
One thing is clear – joy comes through a life lived in the “woods of our experience”. It can’t be permanently held on to but it is discovered through walking in paths of righteousness. Whether your current wood is blooming in spiritual springtime or more of a barren wilderness, find comfort in the words of Ecclesiastes 5:20 – “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” Joy is waiting for you. In it is the power of the Spirit to disarm the snares set by Satan to keep us trapped in complacency and in fear. Look up! Set your eyes on the things that are above, and you will see the sun break through! Over the next few weeks leading up to the women’s retreat, women from around the Diocese will continue to share their testimonies and revelations on joy. I encourage you to dig down into your own experiences with joy and engage with the online community. Joy is not meant to be kept but shared. Joy is cause for celebration! Your story may be the words of encouragement another woman in the body of Christ needs to hear to be able to meet God in her wilderness.
Have you registered for the retreat? Register today at: http://www.dwgc.org/2020-diocesan-womens-retreat
Mikah Alge attends Grace Anglican in Katy with her husband Joey and her four children.