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We were in a mall. A woman whistled at her husband when she saw him on the stairs. He had been at a meeting lasting three hours. When he saw her, he came down, walked hurriedly towards her and nearly knocked her over in an embrace. Both laughed. One doesn’t see such an expression of joyful love every day, especially not when the couple have been married for almost 50 years. The people around them smiled. We can imagine that our heavenly Father also smiled, because that is how Jesus portrayed Him.

One day Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and scribes about the love of our heavenly Father. He then told them a story to demonstrate it. He said there was a son who demanded his portion of the family inheritance prematurely. The son then squandered his money by living recklessly. Later he had to take care of pigs, and he was very hungry. He then decided to return to his father, although he didn’t know what to expect at home. But his father surprised him: While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. The father then quickly gathered his workers and said: “Bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:11-32). That is how Jesus wants us to picture our Father: Like someone running to meet us, and who embraces us with joyous love, who presents us with a feast with only the best, and who wants to rejoice with us.

            Jesus spoke about the joy in heaven. He said: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Jesus said that the angels rejoice over everyone who was saved, and also rejoice in Jesus who enabled this redemption on the cross. They are glad about everyone who was changed, who received a “new heart”: Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also (2 Cor. 5:17 – 18). If we allow the Spirit of God to lead us, we become new beings, and increasingly so: But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control (Gal. 5:22 – 23). Note that joy, just like love, is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Without joy we don’t live the life which God intended for us.

If we suffer, we must remember: Let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, … He did not give up because of the cross! … because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross (Heb. 12:2). Someone writes: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.” David writes: You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy (Ps. 30:11-12). An old rabbinical saying is: “God will judge us one day on all the joys He granted us and which we forgot to enjoy!”

Jesus was the most joyful man on earth: Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Heb. 1:9). The text in Hebrews refers to the foreshadowing of Jesus in Ps. 45:9.


We thank You, Lord, for all the joys You grant us, even amid the storms. Amen.


 Gert Berning