It has been said that joy is to be the hallmark of the believer. But I believe it is to be a sappy “Hallmark greeting card” kind of joy. As Lewis Smedes once remarked: “If our joy is honest joy, it must somehow be congruous with human tragedy. This is the test of joy’s intregrity: is it compatible with pain?…”
Now I believe in living authentically. When we hurt, we hurt. But if we really feel the joy of Jesus inside, we need to tell our face to reflect that… even in the most trying of times.
Early in the 20th Century a man named Alexander Grigolia immigrated from Soviet Georgia to the US. He quickly learned the language, got an education (3 doctoral degrees) and a successful career as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Yet despite his success, he lacked a true joy in his heart. Robert J. Morgan tells the story of how one day he encountered joy in the face of a shoeshine boy.
While getting a shoeshine, he noticed the boy was working with joy as he scrubbed his shoes. He continued diligently in his task smiling and laughing. Finally Dr. Grigolia could stand it no longer. He said: “Why are you always you so happy?”
Looking up, the bootblack paused and replied, “Jesus. He loves me. He died so God could forgive my badness. He makes me happy.”
The professor snapped his newpaper back in front on his face, and the shoeshine boy went back to work.
Morgan remarks: “But Dr. Grigola never escaped those words, and they brought him eventually to the Savior. He later became a professor of anthropology at Wheaton College, and taught, among others, a young student named Billy Graham. ”
James says: “Count it ALL joy.” Not just the Hallmark moments, but every single moment. That is the witness guaranteed to catch the attention of the joyless.