I like to be happy. I really do. I listen to "emo" music and enjoy the rain, yeah, but I still really like to be happy (in there own way, the typically depressing things I enjoy make me happy). I like to laugh and joke, to run around, and to have a good time. Like most people, being happy is nearly vital to my life. But like the modern ideas of Love discussed last week, happiness is just an emotion.
As several people have phrased it, "Happiness happens."
I can go from happy to sad in a matter of seconds. All it takes is an unexpected, tragic event in an otherwise funny movie or getting some depressing news. Most people would agree.
Joy is quite different - you can be joyous, even in suffering. We are even told to consider trials "pure joy" (James 1:2). We may not be happy when we are persecuted, mocked, or killed, but we do it with Joy in our hearts. We may not especially enjoy serving food to the homeless, building a new house for the poor, or going without that others may have (though as we Love God more, these things will become less of a duty and more of a pleasure), but we do it with Joy.
It is well known that Martin Luther suffered from many afflictions - depression chief among them. While he was a monk, he was terrified of God, and later into his life still struggled with his doubts. But upon realizing the Good News of Christ our Lord and spreading it throughout the Holy Roman Empire, as he had to face not only his own doubts, but threats from the papacy, he continued on in Joy.
Therefore, when the path in front of us becomes dark and we begin to stumble, as the world starts to close in on us, and as we start to lose sight of Hope, even in these times, we should remember the Joy of our salvation and the new life given to us through the empty tomb that Easter morning.
PS: The title, of course, comes from Friedrich Schiller's poem set to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth.
PPS: This post took a little longer, and I apologize. It's been a hectic week with jet lag and many journeys.