Let There Be Joy

Bible Book: John  16 : 16-22
Subject: Joy

I love a good sense of humor. I think all of us enjoy a time of good laughing. I am convinced that humor is from God. Like anything, it can be turned into coarse joking and inappropriate dialogue. However, good humor can bring about great joy.

I personally love to be around people who are fun, joyful, and happy. I think all of us do. One of the things that I have enjoyed doing in people's lives is trying to make them happy. I have also learned in my life how to take jokes as well as to tell them. The older I get, the more people tease me and pick at me and tell jokes to me. I don't mind that a bit. However, in recent days I have been getting more and more e-mails, letters, and phone calls with jokes that pertain to age. Why this is happening, I do not know!

For example, some time back, I received one about the top ten changes at NASA to accommodate 76 year-old John Glenn's return to space on the Shuttle 'Discovery.' Listen to these changes:

10. All important devices now operated by the Clapper.

9. Shuttle's thermostat set on 80 degrees.

8. Shuffle board installed in cargo bay.

7. "Early Bird" specials from Morrison's Cafeteria included on menu.

6. One monitor specifically designated for Matlock reruns.

5. Little bowls of candy scattered randomly about the ship.

4. Top speed of the shuttle set at 25 miles per hour.

3. Installed a new bifocal windshield.

2. Space pants now go up to armpits.

1. Left-blinker left on for entire mission.

How about that? While we all enjoy good, clean jokes and fun, I think all of us recognize that they do not bring about a deep-down joy, but a momentary happiness. In fact, that is one of the big differences that our world has never been able to understand. Circumstantial and momentary happiness seem to be our world's only hope. For the believer, there is a deep-down joy that surpasses that momentary happiness.

Our passage for tonight tells us about this deep-down ongoing joy. Turn with me to John 16:16-22. This section concludes the Upper Room Discourse and deals primarily with the emotions of the disciples. They were sorrowing, they were confused about some of Jesus' teaching, and they were

afraid. It is an encouragement to me to know that the disciples were real men with real problems, yet the Lord was able to use them. We sometimes get the false impression that these men were different from us, especially endowed with spiritual knowledge and courage; but such was not the case. They were human!

One of the recurring themes in this section is joy. The Eleven were certainly not experiencing much joy that night! But what Jesus said to them eventually made a difference in their lives, just as it can make a difference in our lives today. Tenderly and patiently, our Lord explained how His people can have joy in their lives. Please hear this principle.

I. God Brings Joy To Our Lives, Not By Substitution, But By Transformation

His illustration of the woman giving birth makes this clear. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy. In birth, God does not substitute something else to relieve the mother's pain. Instead, He uses what is there already but transforms it.

Every parent knows what it is like to have an unhappy child because a toy is broken or a playmate  has gone home. The parent can do one of two things: substitute something else for the broken toy or absent friend, or transform the situation into a new experience for the unhappy child. If Mother always gets a new toy for the child each time a toy is broken, that child will grow up expecting every problem to be solved by substitution. If Mother always phones another playmate and invites him or her over, the child will grow up expecting people to come to his rescue whenever there is a crisis. The result either way is a spoiled child who will not be able to cope with reality.

II.The Way Of Substitution For Solving Problems Is The Way Of Immaturity

The Way Of Substitution For Solving Problems Is The Way Of Immaturity...The Way Of Transformation Is The Way Of Faith And Maturity.

We cannot mature emotionally or spiritually if somebody is always replacing our broken toys. Jesus did not say that the mother's sorrow (pain) was replaced by joy, but that the sorrow was transformed into joy. The same baby that caused the pain also caused the joy! And so it is in the Christian life: God takes seemingly impossible situations, adds the miracle of His grace, and transforms trial into triumph and sorrow into joy.

Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave, and Potiphar put him into prison as a criminal, but God transformed that hopeless situation of defeat into victory. Egypt's persecution of Israel only caused them to multiply and prosper the more. King Saul's murderous pursuit of David only made him more a man of God and helped produce the psalms that encourage our hearts today. Even Jesus took the cross, a symbol of defeat and shame, and transformed it into a symbol of victory and glory.

Do you see the importance of this principle? When we realize that God brings the deep-down joy into our hearts by transformation, it gives us an entirely new perspective in life. The things that Satan throws at us to destroy us can be used for good by God. Let us seek not the easy way, but the mature way. God has many lessons to teach us in life. If we are always asking Him to relieve us of every burden, then we will miss out on many of the lessons, the deep-down, long-lasting lessons that He has for us. When those lessons are learned and applied, there is the accompanying deep-down joy.

III.The Application Of This Principle Is Found In His "Little While"

In John 16:16, Jesus announced that in a little while, they would not see Him. Then, in a little while, they would see Him. It was a deliberately puzzling statement and the disciples did not understand. This also encourages me as I study my Bible and find statements that I cannot understand. Even the disciples had their hours of spiritual ignorance!

What did Jesus mean? Possibly He was talking about the soon-to-occur events in connection with His death and resurrection. After His burial, they would not see Him for a little while, but then He would rise from the dead and they would see Him again. He had told them on previous occasions that He would rise from the dead after three days, but His words did not sink into their minds and hearts.

However, I think that Jesus was speaking primarily about His return to the Father. This ties in with John 16:10-"Because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more." The disciples did not live to see the return of Christ, but they did die and see Him when they arrived in glory. In comparison to eternity, the time that the church has been awaiting the Lord's return has really been but "a little while". In fact, the phrase "a little while" is used in this very sense in Hebrews 10:37-"For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."

Instead of asking Jesus to explain His words, the men began to discuss it among themselves, almost as though they were embarrassed to admit their ignorance. However, you do not get very far by exchanging your ignorance! It is when we come to the Lord and ask for His help that we learn the important lessons of life.

Egypt was glad when Israel departed (Psalm 105:38), and the world was glad when Jesus Christ moved off the scene. Both the religious and political leaders of that day expected to see the early believers die out and the "Christian movement" disappear but such was not the case. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to His church, and the church is carrying the Word of His grace to the ends of the earth. The early believers even rejoiced when they were persecuted (Acts 5:41).

To the mother experiencing birth pains, every minute may seem an hour. Our concept of time changes with our feelings. Thirty minutes in the dentist chair may seem like hours, while hours fishing or dining with friends may seem like a very short time. The mother feels as though the birth is taking along time, when really it may be only "a little while." When the baby has been born, pain is forgotten as joy fills her heart.

The world today does not want Jesus Christ or His church. The world is rejoicing while we are suffering, longing for our Lord to return. When the Bridegroom is away, the bride mourns. But, in "a little while" He shall return and we shall go with Him to heaven to enjoy the Father's house.

While the immediate application may have been to the sorrowing hearts of the disciples, the ultimate application is to all of God's people as they await the coming of Jesus Christ. To us, it seems like a long wait; but God does not measure time as we do (see II Peter 3). But while we are waiting, we must deal with our trials and hurts on the