Joy is a Gift from God

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. -Psalm 16:11

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. -John 15:11

Dear members and friends,

Personally, joy has been and still is a challenging thing for me to fully understand. In the beginning, I was unsure what joy felt like. Unfortunately, I do not have any memory of laughing with joy in my childhood. Later, I had many moments in which I felt great pleasure and happiness in my heart. Yet, within moments such a feeling would disappear, leaving behind just emotional emptiness as its only mark of ever having been there. My wish has been to experience the joy that does not disappear, such as in John where Jesus teaches us, “my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” One thing I understand now is that lasting joy may not be found from the beings and matters in the physical world. Following the teaching of Jesus seems to be a great start in seeking and finding lasting joy. The very first step is to find a way to have the joy of Jesus in me. How on earth can a mere human like myself have the joy that is in Jesus? According to Jesus, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” What Jesus teaches is that joy is from the love we have. Thus, we first must abide in His love by keeping His commandments. 

In Arcana Coelestia, Swedenborg explains the relationship between joy and love: “It is in everyone’s power very well to know that no life is possible without some love, and that no joy is possible except that which flows from love. Such however as is the love, such is the life, and such the joy: if you were to remove loves, or what is the same thing, desires – for these are of love – thought would instantly cease, and you would become like a dead person.(#33)” Love is, according to Swedenborg, what determines the kind of joy we would have in our hearts. At the same time, love is what keeps us alive, while joy is what makes us feel alive. The problem is that the love we began our life’s journey with is not Jesus’ love. Even though love from God is keeping us alive, we initially choose love of self and of the world. This is why Jesus teaches us that loving God and loving our neighbor are two great commandments, meaning something that is mandatory for us.   

My brothers and sisters in God, as we are in the middle of the Advent Season, let us take a moment and embrace quietness. In the quietness of our hearts, let us take a look into ourselves and see what has been driving us lately. Hopefully, you may find great love from God within your heart. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee