By Ernest O'Neill
By Rev. Ernest O'Neill
It seems that in some way, God is saying, “The joy that my Son has is a joy that continues in the midst of affliction.” It is something that is independent of the so-called “joys” that we are used to. Unless you put away those toys, a bit like, “When I was a child, I spoke in childish ways. But now I’m a man, [now I’m a woman] I’ve put away childish things.” (1 Col. 13:11) Or, “Unless you’ve put away those childish toys, you cannot enter into the manhood or the womanhood of my Son”. You cannot.
You can see that it’s really different. There is a great contrast. It’s very difficult to say, “Jesus’ joy is something that he kindly adds to our joy as kind of icing on the cake.” As if we have all this and heaven, too. We have all this fun and we get heaven as well. In no way is this what God is talking about when he talks about joy. He’s obviously talking about a deep joy that is only possible to people who have finally come to the place where they don’t regard those things as joys -- where they do not get their kick from those things -- where indeed, they have come to the place where they see through all those things. Not only do they see the terrible emptiness of those things in a kind of philosophical safe secure way -- but they see the emptiness of them with eyes that have been drained of the happiness that comes from those things.
If you like to say, “Do you mean like George Saunders on his death bed?” I think that it is that kind of thing -- where you come to the place where you see, “This holds nothing for me. This is kind of boring. This isn’t happiness. Is there happiness anywhere? Is there anything lasting?” Then a voice comes, “My joy will be in you and your joy will be full.” It seems to me that’s it. I don’t think it’s any less than that.