An indescribable and glorious joy, the apostle calls it.

But in my world, there are the endless questions – the same ones. Repeatedly! Five, ten, twenty times.

What goes in just doesn’t stick. Like a dry erase marker on an oily white board. Before the ink is dry, it shrinks and begins to drip away.

She knows.

“What’s wrong with me? I can’t remember anything.”

Unless she retrieves memories from long ago. But even those are fading as she takes pieces of stories and synthesizes them into one or stops in the middle of telling and asks me to do the telling for her.

She leans on me. For everything. And I’m happy to be there for her.

This past week, she apologized for not helping with the housework. I told her it was okay. “God’s just paying me back for being such a slob all these years. Now it’s my turn to pick up your clothes.”

It’s a 24/7 job.

And she clings to me. She says I make her feel safe.

Lest you feel sorry for her…for me…for us, let me remind you that the path we walk, she and I, we all walk at some point. In every marriage – every relationship – one of the partners must deal with the permanent loss of the other.

Our world is broken! Cursed by sin! It is the temporary reality!

It was into such a broken world that Jesus came. Death! Disease! Social injustice! Racial animus! Genocide! Military occupation! Dementia!

“Good tidings of great joy!”

That’s what the angels proclaimed in the midst of it all.

Still, we have to wonder – is this some kind of celestial promise to eradicate all human suffering? If so, we are still waiting. In my entitled state, when I think “joy,” I think ease of life. I think luxury and perfection.

It doesn’t escape my notice that all of the New Testament writers were either executed for their faith in Christ or died in prison. They were persecuted in ways we cannot imagine.

Yet, the promise of joy thrives in their language.

Why? How? Can suffering coexist in the same vessel that joy does? Can one overpower the other? Will joy win out? Will, as we might be tempted to think, that painful trial will destroy joy and drive believers into despair?

The apostle Peter said that we have become filled with an “inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Filled, mind you. To the brim. No room for more.

But only two or three sentences before, he promised that we who believe would “suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”




These are words reserved for the gravest of human agony. They have overtones of intense human loss and tragedy.

How can this be? To suffer trials so devastating that we spiral into grief and suffering. And then Peter has the gall to say that his suffering, agonizing readers were (or could be) filled with a joy so profound that it can only be described with two words inexpressible and glorious.

The answer to the conundrum can only be found in the rest of his argument.

In human terms, it would be impossible to mine this kind of joy out of the hard rock of suffering. But when we begin to grasp the power of a God’s love that is so deep that it would compel him to put himself at the disposal of his creation – to die at their hands so that there would be no doubt of the Trinity’s affection for us – it is only then that the answer begins to slowly emerge from the shadows of our human limitations.

That kind of love is beyond my natural inclinations. In fact, it is so un-human that I can barely believe it.

But he’s not finished yet. What was done for me in the gospel of Christ is that any promise God makes to me about future salvation – about future redemption can be taken to the bank. We can count one it.

Future reunion with God in my resurrected flesh? A restoration of the Garden relationship? A day when I will walk with God in reality – face to face? Not by faith?

And even though I do not experience it yet, it is still so real to me that I can endure whatever the sin-cursed world throws my way- when everything in me and the demons of hell cry out, “Give it up!” I can do this because the gospel has removed my blinders and I can see just a little further into the future…into eternity. Not much, but a little bit. Increasingly.

As I’ve said before – there is a disconnect between what life should be like and the way that it is.

But if the resurrection of Jesus really happened, then I can trust God that he’s going to make it right.

That day can’t get here fast enough.

Joy To The World! An inexpressible and glorious joy! The wonders of His love…the wonders of His love!


Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart prepare Him room

And Heaven and nature sing

And Heaven and nature sing

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing



Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

Let men their songs employ

While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy

Repeat the sounding joy

Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy



No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

Far as the curse is found

Far as, far as, the curse is found



He rules the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love

And wonders of His love

And wonders, wonders, of His love