I love Jerusalem. The sights, the sounds, and even the smells—they’re all unique! The city teems with history, buzzes with intrigue, and bustles with life.
My first impression of Jerusalem was one of disappointment, however. Allow me to explain…
Jill and I were leading a party of 50 American friends on our first visit to the Holy Land. Upon arrival at our hotel, we were surprised by the lack of activity in the foyer. We were even more surprised at the lack of service in the restaurant.
The perplexing circumstances continued as we were ushered in to a large space where we were told our rooms were not ready and our bags had not been unloaded. For that, we would have to wait until sundown.
You see, we had arrived during the Jewish Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Businesses within the city closed and Jerusalem resembled a ghost town.
So there we were—a busload of disgruntled tourists in a foreign land.
I must admit, at that time I was not personally acquainted with any Orthodox Jewish person. I observed them to be quite serious people, wearing somber clothes and exuding somber expressions. So my first impression of Jerusalem suggested to me that the city resembled its people accordingly.
Then the sun set and Jerusalem came instantly to life! Plazas flooded with people, restaurants opened, shopkeepers brought out their wares, the music started, and the dancing began.
The change was electrifying, and the joy was palpable.
All this led me to search the pages of the Old Testament. To my surprise, I discovered scores of references to joy in the history of God’s dealings with Israel.
The psalms, of course, are full of joy—though they also feature sacred laments that describe grave affliction and sorrow. The Hebrews were surely acquainted with both, as David wrote in Psalm 30:11–12…
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Likewise, the New Testament is filled with teaching about joy in the believer’s life—not the least of which was spoken directly by Jesus.
He told His disciples of His desire for them: “That my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). These words alone invite our thoughtful study, quiet contemplation, and willful implementation.
In this way, joy is esteemed as an integral part of the Christian faith! It informs, impacts, and conditions our responses to the circumstances in which we live.
So, as our circumstances give rise to worry and anxious discouragement, I am convinced that the rediscovery of joy is an enormous blessing.
Of course, rediscovering joy implies that it may be lost or our view of it regrettably clouded. Such is the case for hearts weighed down by loneliness and grief—longing to locate the sure ground of joy that ever prevails in Christ.
Jill and I are eager to share a special resource with you to help you do that—our 5-message series, Rediscovering Joy, which examines the lives of several saints throughout Scripture and shows you how to reencounter the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
Rediscovering Joy is our way to thank you for your faithful financial support. So be sure to request your copy when you give today—and thank you, as ever, for your wonderful partnership!