In an age of hatred, outrage, narcissism, and deep defiance against absolutes such as truth, goodness, and beauty, the longing for a rich and glorious joy burns feverishly in our hearts. This sour world, lost in the circus mirrors of its own vanity and drowning in the white noise of feeds, posts, snaps, and binges of all stripes, is in dire need of a good feast, what Tolkien saw as a hearty evening by the fire, filled with boisterous laughter and great dancing. Or, as Lewis suggested, what greater way to herald the breaking of winter than the carousing of creatures at the coming of spring? The promise of resurrection is a great promise, full and strong, breaking like the tide against this screen-drunk land.
I am fond of saying Christians, by definition, ought to be the most celebratory, revelrous, festive, merry, jubilant, glorious, and passionate beings on Earth, for we are little Christs, microcosms of the cosmos-Creator. We are students of the Lord of laughter, the Author of baby-babble, the Sculptor of forestry, and the Father of all flavors. We are disciples of the One who ringed Saturn, spoke light, and lulled the raging seas. We serve the God who made music and poetry, and as we behold His glory, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (II Cor. 3:18). As we become more and more like our wondrous Creator, the world ought to see us laugh as He laughs, forgive as He forgives, dance and sing and shout. He is the prodigal Father, excessive and exuberant in His splendor. Indeed, as His cup overflows with His grace, so must our cups overflow with His praise, held high in a toast of joyful cheer and strong power. As C.S. Lewis famously quipped, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
If this were not enough, God’s eternal Word lavishes upon us imperatives to take heart and seek joy:
The psalmist declares, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Ps. 4:7) and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).
In Isaiah, “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Is. 55:2).
In Ecclesiastes, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love” (Eccl. 9:7, 9).
In John, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
In Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
In Thessalonians, “Rejoice evermore” (I Thess. 5:16).
And in Nehemiah, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
The joy of the Lord is your strength. If you are like me, you have seen more than your fair share of dragons lurking throughout our modern landscape, seeking, as does the father of all dragons, to “steal, kill, and destroy.” May this day be the day you rise, take up your Sword, and, as King Jesus did all those years ago, slay the dragon with the joy of the Lord. Celebrate the victory of the cross. Place every hope in your King. Die to yourself and rise laughing from the grave.
Be strong and courageous. Be valiant. Be together. Be filled.