I love the song “Joy” by Page CXVI. It was written by Tifah Phillips as a lament to Christ after her father died of cancer. (Here is the link to her story ab0ut how the song was written – http://blog.pagecxvi.com/post/683764188/joy). Tifah took the song “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart” and she rearranged it into a lament. She recognized that joy is something that is beyond mere happiness. She understood that true joy, if it is to become true and loving, must be mingled with a sorrow that shares in the sufferings of Christ.
So often I find that we Christians do not know how to be sad. We tragically believe that the joy of Christ does not allow for sadness or tears or pain, feeling that an expression of sadness is a denial of Christ. We mask our sadness by wearing a veneer of happiness. Or we avoid sadness by harboring deep bitterness and anger. In a weird paradox, we often do both at the same time.
I am comforted that the Gospel allows for sadness, for lament, and for longing. I am consoled by scriptures like…
Psalm 88:9-12 – My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
Job 3:24-26 – I sigh when food is put before me, and my groans pour out like water. For the thing I feared has overtaken me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. I cannot relax or be still; I have no rest, for trouble comes.
Habbakuk 3:17-18 – Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
I am thankful that Joy is not a ‘feeling’ or a ‘subjective’ reality. Because of Christ, Joy is tangible. Joy is living. Joy is tenacious. I am thankful that I don’t possess Joy. Joy possesses me. So in my sorrow, in my pain, in my moments of darkness when I can’t feel a single ounce of happiness, the Joy of Christ is rooted down deep in my heart. And it will overcome. “When I can’t understand and I can’t pretend that this will be alright in the end, I’ll trust this grace and lift up my face to sing about this joy, Joy, JOY!”