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Joy in Pandemic Times

April 17, 2020 | Feature Story by Neil Braga[1]

JOY is defined as happy, glad, cheerful or joyful. In Hebrew, joy is

Simcha, Sason and Gil while in Greek, it is Chara. These words refer

to the feeling of being joyful.

In the Bible, people find joy in the good things in life, E.g. In the

creations of God as described in Psalm 65: 11 – 12, joy is felt in

beautiful experiences in life, such as growing flocks and having

a good harvest. We even find joy in the special events in life such

as weddings. (Jeremiah 33:11).

Parents find joy in their children (Proverbs 23: 24-25). In Proverbs

27:9, this verse talks about joy when someone smells a good

perfume similar to a good friend bringing joy to one’s heart.

While Bible talks about joy, it as well talks about sorrow, grief,

selfishness, persecution, hatred, idolatry, death and loss. Joy is

an attitude the people of God chose, not because of their sad or

happy situation, but because of their hope in God's promise of

the future.

When the Israelites were freed from slavery, the first thing they

did was to praise God and shout for joy.

However,  when they were in the desert and wilderness, they were vulnerable to stronger enemies, harsh climate, wild beast, famine and the seeming difficulty of reaching the promised land due to long journey.  They chose to rejoice despite the situation.

Thus, joy is not determined by the current struggles, but with their anticipation of reaching their future destination- the promised land. This resonates with our current Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) as a temporary situation to maintain physical distancing and to avert the spread of virus. There is joy as we are to look forward to what awaits us at the end of this, bringing our hope in God’s faithfulness and the promise of redemption.

The prophet Isaiah was looking forward to a day where a new Deliverer will rise up like Moses. He wrote in Isaiah 51:11, “Those redeemed by the Lord will return to Zion with glad shouts. Eternal joy crowning their heads, happiness and joy will overtake them”.

So while Israel waited, the nation chose to be joyful to anticipate their redemption.

At Jesus birth was announced as “Good news that brings great Joy. For this is the fulfillment of prophet Isaiah's prophesy about the coming of the Redeemer”. (Luke 2: 10)

In the earthly ministry of the Redeemer, Jesus taught His disciples to have joy.  Their rejection is not unique, but the prophets ahead of them were in the same situation, suffering, isolated, stigmatized. A reward in heaven is promised to those who suffer from persecution. (Matt 5: 12)

In Luke 10: 21, Jesus Himself rejoiced and gave thanks to God His Father when He began to announce the kingdom of God. This same Jesus who died and rose again instructed His disciples to experience joy as they are filled by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)

Paul in Philippians 1:25 described this joy as ‘The joy in the Lord’. He believed it as a gift of God's Spirit. In that while he is in prison and difficult circumstances he is in, he found joy. On the other hand, it is not wrong at all to hide sadness and loneliness, but be assured that the joy of the Lord will fill us despite situations of isolation, lockdown, and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions in this pandemic time.

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[1] Neil is a Project Officer of the End OSEC Project of PCMN. This study on Joy was first used in the every Monday devotions in one of the online meetings conducted during the pandemic.

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