written by Jin Wang 

Joy, a profound reality bathed in suffering, rooted in touchable hope

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!” We sing.

“He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).

The innocent newborn baby’s cry which gave tremendous joy to His parents mourns for the betrayal, the humiliation, the crucifixion, and Jesus’s own burial merely three decades later.

I wonder, if Mary and Joseph had known this beforehand, would that cry of baby Jesus bring joy?

But the angel said, “[…] I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

 All the people

As I was walking by the sea, my heart was stirred.

Do you know every person’s pain, unmet needs, and deepest desires? Do you know what people are searching for in alcohol, power, and relationships? Do you know how many tears each of them has cried? Would it be as wide as the sea if combined? What joy do you think you can find cheaply?

Joy on earth is nothing but a flicker of light, a shadow of a beautiful shape. Untouchable, unreachable, unpredictable. Something this broken world cannot afford to preserve, and our sinful and imperfect hearts cannot contain. Even at this very moment as I write about joy, many are bathed in sufferings — poverty, diseases, war, etc. As if joy wasn’t enough for all the people.

Bathed in suffering, rooted in touchable hope

Gazing at the sea, my heart felt, “I know it all. I come, so that this can come to an end.”

Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. [. . .] And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6, 8).

Dressed in human flesh, tasted all sufferings – Jesus could raise up from the darkest place a hope for real and lasting joy. He gave joy, the hope of a suffering-free world reconnected with the God of love – a tangible shape. A hope grounded in profound reality which made great joy believable.

Joy, a profound reality

One suffering to end all sufferings. One death to destroy the gate to death. One resurrection to open up eternal life.

Joy, in Jesus, is an overflowing fountain in the heart. Enough for and eternally accessible at all times to all the people who believe. This is the good news.

If even such suffering was pre-programmed into great joy, in fact, the very fulfilment of this joy, then we, as God’s people, can be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

“Joy to the world then we sing. Let the men their songs employ. And repeat the sounding joy!”

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).