There is a better way. God’s words to us are busting at the seams with hope! His story consists of many promises made and kept, once-and-for-all forgiveness granted, oneness with his people, and death conquered. In other words, my realistic gloom is better known as unbelief. Though some things will go bad, they are small matters compared to what goes well. As such, it is time to take seriously the unstoppable movement of Scripture toward hope and then on to joy.
To get there, I can start with repentance. After all, my version of reality can turn into self-protection and self-trust. I like my interpretation of life rather than the Lord’s. So I need his forgiveness, mercy and his grace.
From there I give my attention to his joy, which seems to be within reach because I can find joy in other experiences.
Then [Nehemiah] said to them, “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.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)
Our aim then is to participate in God’s present and future joy. There are many reasons for his joy, and part of our work is to search out those reasons. But for now, it is enough to know that our God is presently a joyful one. Our mission is to both rest in and know this joy.
Natural tendencies toward “down in the dumps” mentality are no excuse because joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Neither is our broken and troubled world a restraint to joy, because it is the intention of the kingdom of heaven, where God’s will is done perfectly. Joy, as C. S. Lewis said, is the real business of heaven, and our present job is to be about our Father’s business.