I hate watching the news. Most of the time. I like the weather and the sports sections. But otherwise, it's just, well, so depressing. Local news seems to focus on local disasters: fires, murders, controversy. National news, the same on a bigger scale: regional disasters, global economic scares, this and that threat to world peace. On and on.
It's not just the frustration of the mainstream media always putting their spin on things. Every story has an "angle" and the media wants to take whatever angle they can to promote their agenda. They don't even hide that fact any more. But I digress. This isn't about the media's liberal bias.
No, it's just the news in general always seems so negative. And it has a tendency to pull you down if you spend too much time with it. There are only so many times you can groan and moan and growl.
But here's the deal. No matter what the news says, no matter how bleak things get, no matter how many dangers are coming our way, no matter how much ISIS grows, and the homosexual agenda proceeds, and the America-haters use their American freedom to bash America, no matter what the complaint may be: No One Takes Our Joy!
As followers of Christ, our joy doesn't come from this world, so the world can't take it from us. In John 16, Jesus speaks of His leaving "for a little while" and then the disciples seeing Him again "in a little while." Obviously, the immediate context speaks of His arrest and crucifixion, followed by His resurrection. And the ultimate context speaks of His ascension, followed by His Second Coming. But there is an "in between" understanding as well.
In this world, we can still "see" Jesus. As the Holy Spirit comes and convicts of sin, and regenerates our hearts, and leads us to repentance, we come to "see" Jesus. He is with us, present with us by grace through faith. And the promise He makes, in verse 22 of that passage, is "I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." No one will take our joy.
Think of the lives of those disciples as they went on from there. Arrests and persecution and famine and martyrdom. Did Jesus not see those things coming? Was this promise of joy made in ignorance, thinking things would work out a little better for those guys? Of course not.
In fact, in the preceding verses, Jesus promised them that the world would hate them! The world would persecute them for His name's sake. He knew full well what was ahead. And yet, He still promises that "no one will take your joy from you." The joy of seeing Jesus, the joy of knowing Him by faith, the joy of being filled with His Spirit; nothing can ever take that from us!
This isn't in any way making light of the difficulties we face. And the way things are going in this world, those difficulties may grow at an alarming rate. I'm not personally looking forward to any of that. I'm not making light of the real, grief producing things of this life: disasters and terrorism and persecution. Many still weep and wail and mourn, and we all experience that to varying degrees. But even then, our true joy can never be taken from us.
In my previous post I reminded us that this world is not our home. It just naturally follows that if our identity is not wrapped up in this world, then our joy isn't either. So bring it on! I may not always do a good job of living up to my theology. I may crumble outwardly when the grief comes. But even then, I know that my true joy is in Christ, and nothing, no one, no how can take that away!