Robert Murray McCheyne said, ‘The purest joy in the world is joy in Christ Jesus.’
In these posts, I want to share some reflections on joy and where, as Christians, we can find our joy.
Finding joy in God’s presence (Part 3)
22nd February 2021
Microscope or telescope?
A microscope and telescope are obviously two very different instruments. If an astronomer was hoping to catch a glimpse of a distant planet or see a shooting star, and they set themselves up on an open hill far away from the urban lights, and looked down the scope of their microscope, they would have no chance of gazing into the vastness of the universe. Similarly, a scientist using a telescope to try and analyse a tiny cell wouldn’t get very far at all.
What is the lens that we view our lives through? I would have to confess that too often I view my life and its circumstances as though through a microscope. Focussing in on small details of my own life and the lives of those around me. I can find myself peering through the lens, which magnifies my own circumstances beyond their true size while blocking out everything else around me.
But, of course, a telescope brings a far different perspective. When we look through a telescope, we gaze into the vastness of the universe, we are reminded of our true size compared to the enormity of the galaxy. We see a larger picture and we see things around us that we would never see through the lens of the microscope.
And we experience joy differently depending on what lens we look through. The Bible reassures us that when we look through the microscope and see the details of our lives up close, we can find joy there. God gives us so many good blessings that bring us joy in our lives. This joy is experienced now amid the varied emotions and events of life.
But this is not how we will experience joy forever. When we look through the eternal lens, we are reminded that as believers in Christ, we have a joy-filled destiny in heaven with Jesus. Joy will not always be experienced through the ups and downs of this life but will one day be experienced in heaven in the presence of Jesus. The joy itself is not different because it comes from the one source – our triune God – but we experience it differently. The joy we experience imperfectly now is a foretaste of the joy we shall one day experience fully, perfectly, and without limit in the presence of Jesus.
Our joy-filled destiny
In this life we experience joy in the midst of suffering and trials but at the end, when our trials are over, Isaiah shows us what lies ahead for us,
'And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.' (Isaiah 35:10)
Everlasting joy is our destiny. Joy is mentioned twice in this short verse and the joy we experience will be pure and free from sorrow.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus gives us the words that we look forward to hearing when we arrive in glory,
'Well done, good and faithful servant.'
Do you know the words that follow this? Jesus says,
‘Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)
This is the promise to every believer. That we will enter into God’s joy. That is our destiny, that is what lies before us. And we can find joy in this life by regularly reminding ourselves that this is our future. We can lift our eyes from the microscope, lift our eyes from our present circumstance, and look to home. And we may have questions about what heaven will be like but one thing we can be sure of is that it will be full of perfect, unending, everlasting joy.
As the hymn says,
'When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be'
And until then, Jesus gives us a great reason to be joyful. Luke records that the seventy-two had returned from their gospel trip joyful and excited about what they had seen God do. Jesus responds to them and says don’t be joyful in these things,
‘but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ (Luke 10:20)
Brother, sister, your name is written in heaven and that is cause for much joy.
Next week - 'The Joy of Salvation'