“Nevertheless… rejoice that your names are written in heaven“ (Luke 10:17-20). “Yet, I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Hab. 3:18)
Lord Jesus, what a contrast of stories—each revealing a joy that transcends immediate circumstances. In the first, the 72 disciples revel in ministry success; in the second, the prophet Habakkuk laments Israel’s impending destruction. The 72 disciples watched darkness flee; Habakkuk saw it coming.
Taken together, we learn that sometimes joy is the resolution of one’s heart in the midst of really difficult circumstances—less a feeling, more a discipline. And sometimes joy is spontaneous gladness, generated by most welcome events and outcomes.
But there is a joy—Gospel-fueled and Spirit-generated, that transcends terror and triumph. It’s not destroyed when there’s no fruit on the vine (Hab. 3:17-18), and it’s not tied to vineyards full of lush grapes. We wish our dance-worthy circumstances would always out-number our fear-fueling, anguish-generating ones. But that’s not what you told us to expect (John 16:33).
In the world we will have trouble; but in you and by you, we do have peace. The peace you give best explains the joy you promise, for they are virtually synonymous. The greatest peace and joy come from knowing we belong to you, Jesus. All kinds of stories will be written into our lives on the way Home—many we’d never choose, many that leave us giddy with gratitude. But the main penmanship we want to live by and rest in, is the day our Father used the permanent ink of his grace to write our names in heaven. It is so, because “It is finished!” (John 19:30). So Very Amen.