I had an acquaintance who openly professed himself to be “not a religious man.” So, it was fascinating to hear him tell of the time when, as a college student, he visited the campus of a Christian university. Whether it was for scholastic competition or a conference, I do not recall, but whatever his reason for being there, the experience was for him a bit unsettling. “They were too happy!” he exclaimed. Though his grin acknowledged the irony in his statement, he nevertheless remained as bemused by—and seemingly skeptical of—this outer glow of inner joy as when he originally encountered it decades prior.
There is indeed a joy that fills us who are in Christ. We discover His promises to be true, His love to be free, and His presence to be real. Our life changes in an instant, and we blossom over time. But to think life in Christ is free of problems and disappointments is [trigger warning!] no more realistic for us than in the fairy tales that conjure up the “they-all-lived-happily-ever-after” specter in the first place. Even blessed lives have their difficulties. Take Isaac, for instance. This chosen son of Abraham planted crops and reaped a hundredfold “because the Lord blessed him,” so much so, it turns out, that his rival Philistines “envied him” to the point of stopping up his wells and “filling them with earth” (Genesis 26:12-15). Even in blessing, evil lay close at hand. (We can relate, Isaac, we can relate.)
Christian joy is not the goofy grin of naiveté, as some might suspect, rather it is the glow of the overcomer—the one who perseveres through the struggles of this life with face set on Christ and the eternal victory that is found in Him. Then in this hope, she assures sojourners of this hope; in great blessing, he becomes great blessing to others. This is the smile of the soul, the manifestation of the Spirit, the beaming beacon of joy. This is new life in Christ.
Father, you are good; in your goodness, deliver me from evil. You bless me, so grace me to bless others. Your Spirit burns in me, so let Him shine from me in great joy, the joy of an overcomer. Thank you. In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is confidence.