“To be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son— it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
Category Archives: Joy
“And a voice spoke softly behind him: ‘In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.’ With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. ‘Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?’ he said.
But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’
‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known.
But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.
‘How do I feel?’ he cried. ‘Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’ – he waved his arms in the air – ‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!’”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1954), 951-952.
“Brethren, let us think over our comforts now, for a minute, and our consolations. Have we not this for consolation—that God has loved us with an everlasting love, even the Lord who cannot change?
Hitherto He has never failed us,—He has promised that all good things shall be ours as we need them, and it has been so. Have we not this for a consolation—that He has given us Christ, and therein has given us all things?
Can He deny us anything now, after having given to us His own dear Son? Let us think how dear we are to Christ, how much we cost Him, how precious we are in His sight.
Can He leave us? Can He be unkind to us? Let us reflect upon the way in which the Lord has hitherto always appeared for us in times of difficulty, and rescued us in days of jeopardy.
Turning to the Book, and finding it written, ‘I am God: I change not,’ let us be consoled for the future, and go on our way confident that all shall be well.
All the covenant promises are meant to console us. All the gifts of sovereign grace are intended to give us joy. The attributes of God are springs of consolation for us.
The human nature of Christ in which He comes near to us is a source of bliss. The gentleness and tenderness of the Holy Ghost who dwells in us on purpose to be our Comforter are dear subjects of delight.
Indeed, if we be down cast, we must blame ourselves. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him.’ The consolations of the Spirit are ‘waters to swim in.’
Beloved, we must draw to a close upon this one thought of abundance. Just think of what God has done for us by way of making us happy.
He has not only pardoned us, but He has received us into His family, and He has taken us there, not to be His hired servants, as we once thought He might do, but He has made us His own sons; and what is more than that, He has made us heirs, and not secondary heirs either, but ‘joint-heirs with Christ Jesus’; so that we have come right up from the place of the slave into the position of the heir of all things.
Our Lord Himself, our dear and ever blessed Saviour, was not content to pluck us like brands from the burning—not content to make us His sheep, whom He should watch over with tender care—but He has taken us to be His spouse, and He calls us His beloved.
Yea, He has done more. He has taken us to be members of His body, and we are of His flesh and of His bones. Was there ever such an exaltation as this?
When Scripture speaks of lifting a beggar from the dunghill, and setting him among princes, surely it falls short of this wonder—that of taking a worm of the dust, a sinful wretch that was only fit for Hell, and putting him into union with Christ Jesus, so that he should be a part of the mystical body of the Son of God.
This is marvellous; and, as I think of it, I feel that I have brought you to the sea shore and shown you an ocean to swim in, the depth of which you cannot fathom. Oh the depths of the mercy of God!”
–Charles H. Spurgeon, “‘Waters to Swim In,’” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 18 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1872), 18: 317–318.
“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.
You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.
Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all of your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw– but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.
Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of– something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?
Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?
You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.
But if it should ever really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’
We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.
While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.”
–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 149-151.