Let us rejoice in the Lord …
Indeed! There’s enough glum religion in all stripes.
But here’s an instance in which something I’d thought was a straight scriptural quotation actually isn’t. Instead we have a compression, most likely from Psalm 118 – although there are enough other rejoice citations in the Bible to also prompt this lyric of praise.
So what is faith without joy? Where is the life? Or, to complete the line, “This is the day the Lord has made … let us be glad in it.”
On the eve of the crucifixion, as he’s trying to explain to the disciples the terrifying events about to unfold, Jesus makes an astonishing reference to rejoicing. “Truly truly I tell you that you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. A woman has pain when she is giving birth, when her time has come, but when she has borne her child she no longer remembers her afflictions, through joy that a human being has been born into the world. So now you also feel pain; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice; and no one will take that joy away from you. … Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (John 16, Richard Lattimore translation).
Joy, then, is something quite differrent from happiness. It has roots in affliction and transformation. It is an outpouring of love.
It was by this Light that Job walked through Darkness, and it is by this Light that we come to see our Darkness; but ’tis not that we should abide in Darkness, but walk through it, and come out of it by following the Light of Christ, that in his Light we may see more Light, and so come to receive the Light of Life, as ’tis written, John viii. 12. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)