C.S. Lewis in one of his books (The Joyful Christian) suggests the life of the Christian should be characterized by joy. The New Testament provides support for the ides that the Christian should be joyful. The announcement to the shepherds of the birth of Jesus is a message of joy. “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” (Luke 2: 10) In his final discourse at the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples he wanted to share his joy with them. (John 15: 11) “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
Joy was a characteristic of the first Christians. Chesterton said: “Joy is the colossal secret of Christians. St Paul insisted: “Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful!” (Phil. 4:4) Paul gives the reason for this joy. It is because your names are “written in the in the book of life.”
For whatever reason some person seem to be temperamentally disposed to optimism, to be joyful, while others seem disposed to pessimism, to be sad. Christian joy is not a matter of temperament. It is based on faith in the saving power of Jesus.
It is not easy to be joyful in the face of all the evil and suffering in the world and, especially, in the face of the difficulties, the trials, and disappointments that come into one’s life.
Cardinal Newman used the phrase “joy is the child of sorrow”. St. Peter in his first letter (1: 6-7) reflects that paradox of joy and suffering co-existing. “This is a great joy to you even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire may be proved – to your praise and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” The great joy he refers to is in “a new birth into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ… a heritage that can never be spoiled or soiled and never fade away.”
Jesus did not suffer and die so that we might not suffer and die. He suffered and died so that we might join ourselves to him in his suffering and death and come with him to the joy of the resurrection and of our redemption from sin.