The armor of joy
23 May 2012

 The Armor of Joy

“He who is gladdened by joy cannot be prey to despair, but he who does not make joy his own is easily overcome, and is like one who has unsound armor, and is wounded by even a common stroke.   Not so, he who is well encased at all points, and proof against every shaft that comes upon him. And totally stouter than any armor is joy in God; and whosoever has it, nothing can ever make his head droop or his countenance sad, but he bears all things nobly.”[i]

  

I  I despair when I am going through trials in life. Do you? I fear that God no longer loves me or that I have done something to displease Him and the hard times are His way to show His displeasure. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." The song that God sings over us can become a battle cry! We can let God's love quiet our doubts and fears. Our armor can be solid and we can be well encased in the love and joy of God. We put on this stout armor by placing the hurts and wounds of life outside our souls and keep ourselves close to the heart of God.  His love is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3) and He is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27) I imagine a weary soldier climbing into God the Father's arms and being held in love. When we face trials, can we imagine ourselves in the Father's arms wrapped in love?

Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God- not trouble, hardship, famine, nakedness or danger or sword. The way we think about what happens can separate us from the love of God though! When I go through hardship I don't trust in God's love and I doubt myself and His goodness. Chrysostom tells us joy in God is like an armor because when we abide in God's love we have joy and this joy protects us from the enemy and our own doubts and fears. John 15:9, 11 says, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now, remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Remaining in the love of God shields and shelters us from so much hurt. We can trust God the Father to love us and delight in us. Our trials may have come to prune us (John 15:1-8) or they may not have; our trials may have come to test us, (Job 23:10) maybe not. What we know is that God loves us. He wants to quiet our fears and give us joy in the midst of our sorrow. Joy in God protects the heart like a chrysalis; our souls are encased in the love of God, shielded from harm. The hurts we thought would break us actually break our souls open to the healing, gentle love of God. Our soul sings and takes wing as we shelter ourselves in this deep love of God. Often because of hardship we rejoice in God alone and this rejoicing becomes an armor that protects us from despair.

 

 [i] Chrysostom Homily on Second Corinthians Homily 1:5 NPNF1; 12:275