“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Higher Joy

Since God is the only fountain of joy – indeed, of all good things – only in knowing God can a creature’s joy be complete (John 15:11). We have seen that God can only be fully known by means of a broken and pain-filled world. Therefore, in yet another instance of the beauty of paradox, our joy in God can only be complete if we first lose that joy to suffering and evil. He who is last shall be first, he who would find his life must lose it, he who would be filled with the greatest joy must know the painful loss of that joy.

“…as dying, and behold, we live…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” – Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:10

“So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.” – Jonathan Edwards, “Concerning the Divine Decrees
And not only will we be filled with a greater joy. We, as God’s image bearers, will become more fully who he intended us to be – more like God. The community of heaven will be more united, joyful, and loving – we will love others more truly and be more compassionately for having seen more of God’s love. Our relationships with others will be stronger and more filled with love because we passed through sorrow together, and our relationship with God will be deeper because we came to see him more fully. We will be stronger and deeper and truer people for having learned courage and sacrifice, known God’s power to redeem, and experienced the undying hope amidst sorrow that rests on the foundation of God’s character. We will be older for having grown through the long experience of bittersweet life in a fallen world, and we will be younger for having come to delight in and treasure more fully the simplest of God’s gifts. Having seen God’s wisdom, our wisdom as his children will be deeper, and having participated in his death and glorious new life, we too will be greater and more glorious. Indeed, having seen more fully all that God is, and having been united with God through Christ’s death and resurrection, we ourselves, his sons and daughters, will more brightly reflect his perfections. We will shine the image of God more brightly throughout creation, and back towards our Creator, for his glory and our joy.

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