Word of the Month

Praising and being joyful

November 2002

Whoever respects and accepts God's grace is permitted to have a fulfilled, happy, satisfied, even a rich life. Although we are not spared worries and burdens, temptation, sickness, suffering and sorrow, the grace of God always conveys new strength to carry, gives new help and blessing. Whoever experiences this has occasion to praise God and be joyful his whole life long.

How do we praise the Lord? First of all, through prayer. There is likely no one who sincerely wishes to praise our Heavenly Father but does not pray. In our prayers we praise the Lord. We can also praise the Lord through our thankfulness. Perhaps there are some who do not know what they should be thankful for. The answer is simple: for everything!

We can also praise the Lord by following, helping along and bringing sacrifices. Upon all this rests the blessing of God, who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem mankind. Can we not be happy in the face of such immeasurable love, grace and mercy? Certainly, there are situations that depress us, that make us sad, dissatisfied and even leave us in despair. But it does not have to remain that way! At the altar of God, we are always offered comfort, encouragement, strength and refreshment. There we receive peace, fresh courage and joy, and find ourselves in prayer, work and following.

Let us be joyful in the freedom of the children of God! There is no greater freedom than to have been freed from the burden of all sin. What a wonderful condition when no spirit has any more claim against us. Let us be joyful over the help of God, which we are permitted to experience again and again. Although our Heavenly Father does not always intervene as we imagine He should from our human perspective He does help when the need is greatest.

Our greatest joy is the celebration of the Holy Communion. In the consecrated bread and wine we savour the body and blood of Christ and thus have part in the Lord, who has overcome death, has resurrected, and who will soon return. The worthy partaking of the Holy Communion makes the soul healthy. This too is a reason to be joyful.

The wise Sirach already knew: "The fear of the Lord maketh a merry heart, and giveth joy, and gladness, and a long life." (Ecclesiasticus 1:12). Indeed, the fear of God makes us joyful, because it is the beginning of all wisdom, which makes us capable of finding the right standard, setting priorities, and thus accepting and holding on to God's offer of grace.

Already here on earth we have reason to be joyful. However, the greatest joy is yet to come: on the day of the Lord. In Revelation it states: "Let us be glad and rejoice..., for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." (c.f. Revelation 19:7). We are all invited to this wedding, not as guests, but rather as the bride of the Lord! After that time, God will make all things new: a new heaven, a new earth and New Jerusalem. There we are citizens. We will then truly be glad and rejoice!

(Excerpt from a divine service of the Chief Apostle)