The Strange Reasonableness of Joy
When is joy unreasonable?
We don’t think much about evaluating or pondering the quality of our joy.
“But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.”
“All these things” were the proclamations by angels, appearances by shepherds, and the delivery of a miracle baby at the first Christmas.
Later, when Jesus was a young boy who stayed behind in Jerusalem to learn and listen and even teach the priests and scribes,Mary would wonder further at the mystery of Jesus - “His mother kept all these things in her heart.”
Mary was a ponderer. A wonderer.
We should be so as well.
We should wonder at joy.
Whenever you realize that your soul is at rest, that your mind is quiet, that your heart is at peace… you should think about that. Because it makes no sense whatsoever.
Look around you. The world is crazy. Chaotic. Divided. Hateful. If you listen to the shrill shrieks of journalists and politicians, nothing is right. Everything is wrong. They control the microphones and buttons and screens through which we dine on their loud insistence that we too should be like them - angry and fearful - at something.
We all have mysterious moments when we realize our hearts are at rest. At peace. Undisturbed. In spite of.
The Christian can experience these moments at any moment. The rest of the population may experience them in rare instances, but they are not sustainable.
I read an Advent devotional this season which perplexed and then encouraged me. It said,
“Joy becomes strangely reasonable.”
When does joy become strangely reasonable? When I become convinced that Jesus’ birth brings hope and his death brings redemption, even in the darkest times. Joy is anchored outside of myself. Joy is based in a person, not in my circumstances. Joy is possible and strangely reasonable - even in a chaotic world - becomes my joy is based on a Person who is unfailing instead of a world that is fading.
I think this is what the apostle James meant when he wrote, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials…”
A joy when I experience trials?! This is strangely unreasonable, isn’t it? On the contrary, when the source of my joy is external to and beyond my trials, I am able - like Mary - to focus on what all the events and happenings around me are based on and - “treasure up all these things in my heart and meditate on them.”
Think about joy
That’s the mental activity required. Think about joy. It blossoms and expands at “unreasonable” times. Though according to the worldly narrative we should be indignant, outraged, offended and mad at someone or something all the time, when the source of our joy is outside of what the world offers, being joyful is strangely reasonable.
Think about it. You’ll be joyful that you did.
Recorded in Luke 2:41-52