“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Is. 61:10)
This exquisite verse sits in the third Conqueror’s Song of Isaiah’s scroll. Oh, to hear its melody! A melody to rival any Christmas song—for the grace of which it boasts! The voice resounds with delight from being adorned with salvation and wrapped in a robe of righteousness, as a bride adorned in jewels.
What a sight she is! More radiant than any garment or plentiful accessories is her joy.
A bride positively brims with joy on her wedding day. Joy is the contagion that fills the atmosphere and all in attendance. It’s as though weddings pluck at some eternal string woven deep in our hearts. One tied to a heavenly reality for which we wait. For which we were made.
There is this mysterious dichotomy regarding joy for those in Christ, however. It’s the gift of God, through the Son, and by the Spirit, and it can be present even in affliction. Christians can know sorrow and yet possess joy at the same time. It may sound like foolishness to the world, but it is possible. It is because of what our joy is in. For believers have
- Joy in Jesus
- Joy in His forgiveness
- Joy in His presence
- Joy in hope
- Joy in the future
1. Joy in Jesus
Because of who He is—Son of God, Son of Man, Savior of the World—and because of the life He lived and all He accomplished for sinners everywhere, joy in Jesus is sure. And because He sends the Spirit to live in regenerate hearts, we can have joy—gifted from God. It has been demonstrated for us by Jesus Himself. He has shown us that it is possible to have joy in this world. For if our Lord endured the cross for the joy before Him (Heb. 12:2), His joy can inhabit His Bride.
We can look to His mother Mary, as well. She rejoiced in God (Luke 1:47) even though she was confronted by the unexpected, was wrought with uncertainty, and faced heart-wrenching difficulties. So, too, can the people of the Lord.
“Mary rejoiced in God even though she was confronted by the unexpected, was wrought with uncertainty, and faced heart-wrenching difficulties.”
The Bride, though she does not yet see her Groom, possesses a joy inexpressible. To quote Peter, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
2. Joy in Forgiveness
The psalmist scribed, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1). Blessed, indeed! Without the blessed forgiveness received only in Jesus, people are weighed down with guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Their eternity is cloaked in darkness. But the Bride possesses the gospel, heralded by the angels as “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). This grace and mercy of God lifts the merry heart to sing! For Jesus provides the only remedy for sin. A remedy we cannot provide for ourselves.
To be washed clean and empowered to resist temptation is truly joyous!
3. Joy in His Presence
In the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). He is as promised, God With Us. Our God . . . our Savior . . . our Husband in Heaven is still with us. He has not, nor will He ever, abandon us. He is there, in Spirit, to help, comfort, and guide. He is there, to enfold you in perfect love. He is there, rejoicing over you with gladness (Zeph. 3:17).
“He is there, rejoicing over you with gladness.”
4. Joy in Hope
Not all marriages are filled with joy. Neither is Christmas, for many hurting hearts. And understandably so. But where there is hope, there is light. And because of the hope God has emblazoned on our hearts, we have joy (Prov. 10:28). There may be seasons when faith is taxed. When days are battle-fraught with worry and discouragement. And you might not feel like singing, but you can still “be glad in the Lord” because of the righteousness He imparts (Ps. 32:11). Because of the victory He brings (Rom. 8:37). And because hope is alive. Hope built on accomplished fact.
When it gets hard, those in Christ can still rejoice in hope (Rom. 12:12). For hope never disappoints. Hope is what makes it possible to have both sorrow and joy.
Because joy is not manufactured—it’s a gift.
It’s not purchased—but given.
“Joy is not manufactured—it’s a gift.”
It doesn’t come from external sources, from any created thing in this world—but from our Creator in Heaven, through His Son, who pours the overcoming Spirit into our hearts. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” And hope, its commodity.
5. Joy in the Future
All mankind is united in this: we all die. But, for those in Christ, He has swallowed up the shroud of death. We need not live in fear and dread . . . but joy. Resurrection is in our future. As is the consummation of the redemption of all things.
Jesus assured His disciples that when He saw them again, their hearts would rejoice with a joy nothing could take away (John 16:22). That assurance became reality when He returned to them after His resurrection. I cannot imagine their joy! But the joy of the Bride upon the return of her long-awaited Husband will be just as grand, there is no doubt! It is a joy we can taste now, in part.
Jesus rejoices over His Bride, the church. But I imagine He weeps sometimes, as well—as He did over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-42). But a day is coming when multitudes from every era and nation will raise a joyous “Hallelujah!” at the wedding feast (Rev. 19:6-8).
As much as we love weddings, I do believe God loves them more. For the wedding of the Lamb of God will be exponentially sweeter than any to date!
There is joy for what’s past—for our salvation.
There is joy in the present—for Jesus is with us.
And there is joy for the future—for the return of the Christ and for our own resurrection.
“There is joy for what’s past…joy for the present…joy for the future.”
That’s all-encompassing joy!
And it’s yours today—to fill the season with celebration and to carry you to the day of greatest rejoicing which awaits the Bride of Christ.
For more from Debbra, check out debbrastephens.com.