Joyfulness All the Day Long
“Look! My own servants will rejoice . . . Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully.”—Isa. 65:13, 14.
1. What unhappy conditions today make it questionable to talk about being joyful?
WHO dares to talk about being joyful all day long when conditions are what they are? Everyone knows this situation we live in is no fool’s paradise of pleasure, no storybook fairyland of merriment. Instead of being idle dreamers, dwelling in a ‘Hollywood’ movie world of make-believe, we people have to face up to the grim realities of this tragic world. The cruel times in which we live fill the hearts and minds of men continually with doubts, fears, distrust and hatreds, and these, in turn, produce joy-killing strife, violence, mental illness and suicide on a scale heretofore unknown. Truly this system of things is in a very unhappy state of affairs, and the mighty politicians, clergymen and scientists join in the cry of the common people in lamenting these depressing conditions.
2. How do political and religious leaders view present world conditions?
2 For example, not so long ago Sir Anthony Eden was reported by The Observer (London, September 11, 1960) as saying: “The free world is confused and in considerable danger, greater danger, as I believe, than at any time since 1939.” John Sutherland Bonnell, famed minister of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, when speaking before more than 3,500 persons attending the general council of the United Church of Canada, declared: “The modern world is adrift and despondent, has lost its bearings and has no clearly defined goals, no design for living, no unity of purpose and no spiritual centre of God. The soul is empty and disillusioned in this atomic age.”—Regina Leader-Post, September 19, 1960.
3. And how do conditions look through the eyes of some scientists?
3 Scientists are also heard weeping with the rest. Under the frightening headline “Man Faces Extinction, Says Professor” the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post (London, August 31, 1961) reported: “A solemn warning that mankind faces the danger of extinction was given to-night by Prof. Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark, in his presidential address at the opening in Norwich of the 123rd annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.” This newspaper then quoted Sir Wilfrid directly: “The frightening question is now beginning to present itself whether the civilisation which mankind has slowly and laboriously built up over a period of many thousands of years can avoid disastrous dissolution as the result of uncontrollable or, at any rate, uncontrolled, struggles for political power or economic superiority. . . . This is not to be taken as a melodramatic statement. It expresses a truth which is quite evident to anyone who cares to read the signs of the times. . . . The dangers which now threaten the unity of mankind are formidable indeed. And time is getting very short.” Surely today, the time is even shorter than when these gentlemen voiced the above expressions of fear and anguish.
4, 5. In spite of these conditions, why should we give consideration to the subject of joyfulness?
4 Why, then, in this dark night of global distress and sorrow, should consideration be given to the matter of joyfulness, a subject that seems altogether untimely and impractical? It is because the great Jehovah, the only true and living God, the Creator of heaven and earth, foretold that here in the very midst of this calamitous condition there would be a great outcry of joyfulness. In fact, this accurate Foreteller of the future said there would be two classes of people living at this same period of human history. One class would be those in great sorrow and distress; the other would be exceedingly jubilant. Read Jehovah’s own words of prophecy as recorded by his servant Isaiah, in Isa chapter 65, verses 13, 14:
5 “Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.”
6. What is the difference between being lighthearted with laughter and possessing real joyfulness?
6 To be sure, this old system is full of entertainers, merrymakers and clowns of all sorts, not to mention peddlers of the so-called “happy pills,” all of whom induce much lighthearted laughter among those who are “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:4) But please note the difference and distinction between happiness and true joy. One may be happy, gay, lighthearted and indulge in much laughter in the company of certain companions or due to the immediate circumstances. Drunkards often do a lot of boisterous laughing. But are such ones truly joyful? No, not at all. For joy finds its roots much deeper than in a mere spasm of giddiness or in a momentary state of being gay and full of noisy laughter. Joy has been defined as a deep-rooted rapturous emotion. Says Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, page 1888: “Joy is deeper-rooted than delight, more radiant or demonstrative than gladness.” It is not based on immediate and shifting circumstances but on basic principles of truth, on sound unshakable reason. True joy gives one an inner calm, a peace and contentment, a sense of confidence and power strong enough to carry one through even a raging storm of adverse circumstances.
7. Do the peoples and leaders of the world have true joyfulness?
7 Obviously the politicians, the clergymen and the scientists of this evil Satanic system of things, and all those who support and follow them, do not have this true joyfulness, but, as noted above, are among those who “suffer shame,” who “make outcries because of the pain of heart,” and who “howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.” Jesus also accurately described this joyless class in his great prophecy about our day, saying that men would “become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:26.
8. Who, then, are the only ones having joyfulness all the day long?
8 Who, then, stand out in this sad world in conspicuous contrast by their exhibition of joyfulness all the day long? Jehovah himself identifies them as “my own servants,” that is, worshipers and witnesses of Jehovah who are dedicated to his service. You too, whoever you are and wherever you live, can easily recognize these joyful people, Jehovah’s anointed witnesses and their companions, for they are scattered throughout the inhabited earth in more than 194 countries and islands of the sea, speaking more than 162 languages. These servants of Jehovah are the only ones who are able to display this mark of identification, for this genuine joy is part of their heritage from Jehovah.
9. Is the displaying of joy an optional matter on the part of Jehovah’s servants?
9 Manifesting joyfulness all the day long is not something discretionary on the part of these individuals. Rather, it is a mandatory requirement upon all of Jehovah’s public servants. Writing under inspiration the apostle Paul commands: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!” “Always be rejoicing.” (Phil. 4:4;1 Thess. 5:16) Joy, you must remember, is one of the fruits of God’s spirit that Christians are required to produce just as much as faith, love, kindness, peace, long-suffering, goodness, mildness and self-control. “You must rejoice before Jehovah your God in every undertaking of yours.”—Deut. 12:18; Gal. 5:22, 23.
REASONS FOR JOYFULNESS
10. What is one of the reasons why Jehovah’s people are always rejoicing?
10 Besides being commanded to rejoice “always,” “in every undertaking,” there are at least eight distinct reasons why Jehovah’s servants are joyful at all times. The first of these is their knowledge of the truth as contained in the Holy Bible. They have a knowledge of Jehovah’s sacred name, a knowledge of his attributes, his purposes, his principles, his laws and will for his creatures. This knowledge of the Truth sets his people free from any misgivings and doubts. It frees them from the many grievous lies, superstitions and fears that plague mankind in general. Surely a most compelling reason for rejoicing!—John 8:32; 17:3, 17.
11. Give another reason why Jehovah’s witnesses have joy continually.
11 A second cogent reason why Jehovah’s people have joy continually is that they are able to have their sins forgiven. Such forgiveness of sins is on the basis and through the merit of Jesus’ precious ransom sacrifice, and is made available to them because of their faith, dedication and constant prayers. How could they have joy and at the same time be engaged in a futile striving against sin and with a guilty conscience constantly striking them? Rather, with joyful thanksgiving they join Paul in saying: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for . . . by means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one [Jesus Christ], yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness.”—Eph. 1:3, 7.
12. What is a third cause for this joyfulness?
12 A third reason why Jehovah’s witnesses and their companions, in contrast with all others, are joyful amid present conditions is that they accept the historical events of the past fifty years as overwhelming evidence and proof conclusive that the long-prayed-for kingdom of God was established in the heavens in 1914. It is even more true of these modern-day Christians than it was of first-century Christians of whom Jesus said: “Many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things you are beholding and did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing and did not hear them.” So the marvelous time in which we are living is another cause for joy.—Matt. 13:17.
13. What is “the faithful and discreet slave,” and how has it caused the Lord’s people to rejoice?
13 Jehovah has given his servants in these troublesome times a fourth reason for rejoicing, for his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has raised up “the faithful and discreet slave” and has appointed him over all his belongings. (Matt. 24:45-47) This “slave” class serves as an earthly channel of communication for God’s people, providing them with an understanding of Jehovah’s purposes and giving them direction in the doing of his will. With such direction they are enlightened, strengthened and are united in their worship of the only true and living God. Without this means of communication they would be scattered and lost.
14. In what else do God’s people find a source for rejoicing?
14 Another, the fifth reason for joyfulness, is the sweet association that Jehovah’s people have with one another, not only in their local congregations, but also in their larger circuit, district, national and international assemblies. They make up a genuine Christian society, for they demonstrate a sterling love for one another as they seek the good and the welfare of their brothers. Concerning them it is written: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”—Ps. 133:1; 1 Cor. 10:24.
15. Explain how the witnessing work of Jehovah’s people is another source of joy.
15 The dynamic activity of Jehovah’s witnesses provides a sixth source of joy, that of telling others the good news about God’s kingdom and the blessings it offers to all mankind. Sharing this good news with others brings great joy both to the Witnesses and to their listeners. Even the worldling Mark Twain recognized this principle when he wrote: “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”
16. What threefold prosperity do Jehovah’s witnesses enjoy?
16 The great prosperity of Jehovah’s Christian society of witnesses, a seventh reason for their continual song of joy, is really threefold. Not only are they basking in the sunshine of a spiritual paradise due to the light of Truth shining ever so bright, not only are they rejoicing in the numerical prosperity of over one million active ministers in the field, but they are also overjoyed with the material prosperity Jehovah has given his people in the form of new branch offices, new printing equipment and beautiful new Kingdom Halls, which are springing up all over the world!
17. (a) What is an eighth reason for the Witnesses to rejoice all day long? (b) Are any prevented from sharing in this privilege and joy?
17 The eighth, and in some respects the most important of all, yet one that is based on the other seven reasons for joy, is the privilege Jehovah’s witnesses and their companions have of sharing in the vindication and sanctification of the greatest and most sacred name in all the universe, the name Jehovah! Their privilege in this regard is that of keeping integrity both in their conduct and in their ministry of preaching and teaching. What a privilege this is! Think of it, the privilege of making the heart of the great Jehovah glad by taking a wise course of obedience, and thus proving the Devil a liar. If unable to do anything else because of old age or infirmities or cruel imprisonment, still Jehovah’s dedicated servants find their deepest joy in the grand privilege of maintaining faithfulness even to the point of death!—Prov. 27:11.
18. (a) Explain why the mistreatment of the Witnesses has not killed their joy. (b) In this regard what did Jesus, Paul and James say?
18 In recent years thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses have fiendishly been tortured to death in dictatorial countries because of refusal to compromise their faithfulness to Jehovah. By thus proving integrity under Satanic pressure they have made Jehovah’s heart glad. In turn, this has given God’s people deep inward joy, which is really the secret of their strength. Their enemies, of course, cannot understand how “the joy of Jehovah” could prove to be such a tower of strength and an impregnable stronghold. (Neh. 8:10) Nevertheless, Bible lovers are well aware of this great truth. They know that it was this same joy that was set before the Faithful and True Witness, Jesus, and that enabled him to endure the shame and suffering of death on a torture stake. (Heb. 12:2) In his Sermon on the Mount this great integrity-keeper promised that his faithful followers would likewise share in this joy. “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” To this the writer James adds: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with various trials. Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving him.”—Matt. 5:10-12; Heb. 10:34; Jas. 1:2, 12.
AVOID THE DANGERS OF LOSING JOY
19. Tell how some in times past lost their joy.
19 When Cain saw his brother Abel preferred above himself he lost his joy. God warned him but Cain ignored the warning. Korah, Miriam and others in the wilderness let envy rob them of their joy, and to their own harm. Judas Iscariot, because of a bad heart condition, also let joy slip away from him and he finally ended up a suicide.
20. (a) How can faith prevent us from losing our joy? (b) What does faith depend upon in large measure?
20 To keep our joyfulness requires faith. Faith depends in no small degree upon personal Bible study as well as regular attendance at congregational meetings of Jehovah’s people. Faith will help us to overcome one of the greatest obstacles to joy, namely, worry. Instead of worrying, let us do what we can to straighten out matters, and, if there is nothing else we can do, pray about it and then leave the matter in the able hands of Jehovah.
21. How can appreciation for what God has done for one prove to be a safeguard against losing faith?
21 We must have appreciation too, appreciation for what God has done for us, if we are to keep our joy. With such appreciation we will not let any form of injustice, such as discrimination or partiality, rob us of our joy. Instead of letting evil harden us, we will let it soften us. Are we discriminated against because of nationality, culture, education or skin color? Then let us remember that, with all this imbalance, we are still far better off than those not discriminated against but who do not have the Truth and a knowledge of Jehovah’s purposes; just as in Jesus’ day a slave who was a Christian was far more blessed than a freedman who was a nonbeliever. If you are a person who is introverted and inclined to feel sorry for yourself because of being misunderstood, do not let such a disposition bleed you of your joy. Rather, try to appreciate the reasons why you are not understood, and, if you cannot, remember that Jehovah understands.
22. How can we prevent physical or mental sickness from robbing us of our joy?
22 Or is your problem one of sickness, or are you physically or mentally handicapped? Do not let such things steal away your joy. Better is the lot of the physically blind than that of the spiritually blind! Are you poor in material possessions? Call to mind what Jesus said about the widow’s mite. Paul too wrote that our contributions to God’s cause are acceptable according to what we have and not according to what we do not have. If we are giving 100 percent, then, no matter how little it is, we are contributing to the vindication of Jehovah’s name in total, and we will have Jehovah’s approval and gain everlasting life in his new order of things. So do not let the suffering from physical or economic handicaps rob you of your joy! “In every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers . . . as sorrowing but ever rejoicing, as poor but making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” So rejoice with thanksgiving that yours are not spiritual handicaps!—2 Cor. 6:4, 10; Luke 21:1, 2.
23. What helpful encouragement does the apostle Paul give us in this regard?
23 Or it may be that we have weaknesses of the flesh that tend to rob us of our joy. However, do not let these things discourage you. Call to mind how the apostle Paul had to struggle with the weaknesses of the flesh. “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. . . . when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. Miserable man that I am!” Yet this did not rob Paul of his joy! For he continues: “Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The thing to do is not to give up fighting, but, rather, continue browbeating the body and leading it as a slave to the will of God.—Rom. 7:19, 21, 24, 25; 1 Cor. 9:27.
24. Under the pressures of the times, what other suggestions are offered as a prevention against loss of joy?
24 In addition to the above suggestions it will also be helpful toward remaining joyful all day long if we have good judgment, lay proper plans, and exercise self-control in carrying out such plans. Take an inventory of what you have at your disposal in the way of time, energy, money and personal influence. Prayerfully consider just what you can do in the way of private study as well as ministerial service in the field. Then make a budget and resolve in your heart to stick to it. At the same time do not be fanatical or an extremist. People who can never do enough and who are overconscientious often end up having a nervous breakdown, and this certainly is not the way to be joyful all the day long. Use the spirit of a sound mind. Be moderate in habits.—1 Tim. 3:2, 11; 2 Tim. 1:7.
25. Explain how contentment can prevent one from losing joy.
25 For our joy to endure we also need to have contentment. We must not only appreciate what we have, we must also be content to be without things. Paul learned this lesson, saying: “I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be self-sufficient.” “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” Godly devotion together with self-sufficiency gives the sweet joy of contentment free from anxiety. “Throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—Phil. 4:11;1 Tim. 6:6, 8;1 Pet. 5:7.
26. What else is necessary if one is to remain joyful?
26 Another important factor in retaining joyfulness is humility and submissiveness to theocratic rule. If we think we are passed up or ignored regarding a certain privilege of service, do not let disappointment rob us of our joy. Never forget the fact that Jehovah is running his organization, and it is He who puts the members in their places as it pleases the Creator, not the creature. Promotion is not from any other source than Jehovah. (1 Cor. 12:15-30; Ps. 75:6, 7) So make sure you do not have the spirit of rebellion, for rebels are never joyful. Better it is to give thanks and rejoice over the service privileges one has, no matter how seemingly small they may seem. Humble sons of Levite Korah declared: “I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my God rather than to move around in the tents of wickedness.”—Ps. 84:10.
27. Against what other dangers must we be on guard if we are to remain joyful?
27 We must also be on guard against letting ill will or resentment find a lodging place in our hearts, for we simply cannot bear a grudge or ill feelings and at the same time be joyful. Rather, cultivate brotherly affection. Let no one rob you of your joy, no matter what he says or does. As it is written: “Do not hurry yourself in your spirit to become offended, for the taking of offense is what rests in the bosom of the stupid ones.”—Eccl. 7:9.
28. In contrast with the world of mankind, what is the blessed lot of Jehovah’s witnesses, and why?
28 Certainly the world of mankind today is without joy due to its forsaking Jehovah and his righteous laws. On the other hand, the joy of Jehovah’s servants is exceedingly great, all because they have strong faith, show keen appreciation, use good judgment in planning their activity, are self-sufficient and content in their lot in life, are meek and humble and submissive and show brotherly love and tender affection toward one another.
29. In review, what are some of the principal things over which God’s servants rejoice?
29 Jehovah, in turn, gives his servants many things over which they rejoice all the day long. They have the truth, the truth about Jehovah and his purposes and will for them. They see the fulfillment of Bible prophecies and have the bright hope of the Kingdom. They have the provision of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. They have the faithful and discreet slave as a governing body. They enjoy great prosperity and privileges of service in association with the New World society. Above all, they are sharing in the rare privilege of contributing toward the sanctification and vindication of Jehovah’s precious name.
30. For what superlative reason do Jehovah’s witnesses rejoice, as long ago foretold?
30 Stated in brief, Jehovah’s servants rejoice and are full of exultation all the day long because Jehovah is with them, in their very midst, to bless and uphold them in their faithfulness and integrity. This is exactly as the prophet Zephaniah said it would be among Jehovah’s servants in this time of the end. “Rejoice and exult with all the heart,” for “Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. . . . He will exult over you with rejoicing. . . . He will be joyful over you with happy cries.”—Zeph. 3:14, 17.