In the 16th chapter of John, Jesus makes a powerful statement about joy. Jesus says, “I give you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” The words of Christ emphasize that joy is supposed to be a part of our Christian experience. But the joy that Jesus offers is different than the joy that we often witness in the world. The world’s joy is often circumstantial, based on life events or status, but the joy that Jesus mentions is constant and able to withstand any type of suffering or pain.
In the same passage, John 16, Jesus uses the imagery of a woman giving birth to illustrate how human suffering is short lived. In this, Jesus says that as a woman suffers and endures pain through childbirth, but that the pain goes away when she sees her newborn child. Jesus’ point here is that the pain and suffering that we may encounter in this world isn’t lasting. And what allows us to withstand that pain or suffering? It is the joy that we experience through Christ. This joy can co-exist with suffering.
A book that I read this year that has made a major impact on how I view life and church is actually a book about restaurants. In his book, Unreasonable Hospitality, author Will Guidara identifies the impact of sharing joy. That’s the thing about the joy that we have in Christ- it’s not supposed to be something that we keep to ourselves, it’s something that God wants us to share with others. And because we are all created differently, we can share that joy in our own special way. Maybe your way is just being nice to your neighbor or making a batch of your famous chocolate chip cookies to your church family just because. When you share joy in this way, you make things feel a little more like home.