DIANA is over 80 years old. Her husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was in a nursing home for some years before his death. She also had to cope with the death of her two sons and endured a battle with breast cancer. Yet, when members of Diana’s congregation see her at the Kingdom Hall or in the ministry, they note that she is always joyful.
John was a traveling overseer for over 43 years. He loved that form of service—it was his life! However, he discontinued serving in the traveling work to care for a sick relative, and now he serves in a local congregation. When those who knew John in the past meet him at an assembly or a convention, it seems that he has not changed at all. He still radiates joy.
How is it possible for Diana and John to have joy? How can someone suffering emotionally and physically be joyful? And how can a person who no longer has a cherished privilege still be happy? The Bible gives us insight, saying: “The righteous one will rejoice in Jehovah.” (Ps. 64:10) We can understand this vital truth more fully if we discern what causes inner joy and what does not.
JOY THAT IS TEMPORARY
You certainly know that some things almost always bring joy. Think of a couple in love who are getting married. Or what of becoming a parent or receiving a theocratic privilege? Such things bring joy and rightly so, for those aspects of life originate with Jehovah. He instituted marriage, made it possible to procreate, and gives work assignments through the Christian congregation.—Gen. 2:18, 22; Ps. 127:3; 1 Tim. 3:1.
However, some causes for joy can be temporary. Sadly, a spouse can become unfaithful or die. (Ezek. 24:18; Hos. 3:1) Some children disobey their parents and God, perhaps even being disfellowshipped. Samuel’s sons did not serve Jehovah acceptably, and David’s actions caused him calamity from within his own house. (1 Sam. 8:1-3; 2 Sam. 12:11) Such events bring grief and distress. They surely do not bring us joy.
Similarly, privileges of service among God’s people can end, possibly because of poor health, family obligations, or theocratic adjustments. Many of those going through such changes have admitted that they miss the satisfaction their work brought them.
We can easily see that to some extent such sources of joy can be relative or temporary. Hence, is there another kind of joy, one that remains even when circumstances take an unfavorable turn? There must be, for Samuel, David, and others maintained a measure of joy while experiencing trials.
JOY THAT IS LASTING
Jesus knew what joy really is. During his prehuman existence in heaven, when circumstances were certainly favorable, he “rejoiced before [Jehovah] all the time.” (Prov. 8:30) On earth, however, he was at times confronted with severe difficulties. Still, Jesus found delight in doing his Father’s will. (John 4:34) What of his final painful hours? We read: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake.” (Heb. 12:2) We thus have good reason to consider two of Jesus’ comments about real joy.
Once, 70 disciples returned to Jesus after a preaching assignment. They were joyful because they had performed powerful works, even expelling demons. Then Jesus said to them: “Do not rejoice because the spirits are made subject to you, but rejoice because your names have been written in the heavens.” (Luke 10:1-9, 17, 20) Yes, more important than enjoying a certain special privilege was having Jehovah’s approval. He would favorably remember the faithful disciples—a cause for much greater joy.
On another occasion, Jesus was addressing a crowd. A Jewish woman expressed her feelings that the mother of this remarkable teacher, Jesus, must be very happy. But Jesus corrected her, saying: “No, rather, happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” (Luke 11:27, 28) Being a proud parent can be a wonderful experience; yet, having a relationship with Jehovah because of obedience is a much greater reason for joy.
Indeed, sensing Jehovah’s approval is the key to having deep inner joy. Trials, though not enjoyable in themselves, do not change this awareness. On the contrary, enduring them with integrity is a victory that results in a good heart condition. (Rom. 5:3-5) Additionally, Jehovah gives his spirit to those who trust in him, and joy is part of its fruitage. (Gal. 5:22) That helps us to understand why Psalm 64:10 aptly states: “The righteous one will rejoice in Jehovah.”
This explains why Diana and John, mentioned earlier, could maintain lasting joy when they dealt with difficult circumstances. Diana comments: “I have taken refuge in Jehovah, as a child would with a parent.” How does she sense God’s approval? “I feel that he has blessed me with the ability to continue to preach on a regular basis with a smile on my face.” John, who kept active in the ministry after the end of his cherished traveling work, explains what greatly helped him: “Since 1998 when I was assigned to teach Ministerial Training School, I have done more personal study than ever before.” Speaking for himself and his wife, he adds: “Our general attitude about serving Jehovah over the years in whatever capacity we could has made this adjustment relatively easy. We have done it with no regrets.”
Many others have also experienced the truthfulness of Psalm 64:10. Take, for instance, a couple who served for over 30 years at Bethel in the United States. They were then assigned to the field as special pioneers. Realistically, they admitted: “Grief is a natural process when you lose something you love,” but they added: “You can’t grieve forever.” They quickly got involved in the ministry with the congregation. The couple also commented: “We prayed about some very specific things. Then seeing our prayers answered encouraged us and brought us joy. Soon after we arrived, others in the congregation started pioneering, and we were blessed with two progressive Bible studies.”
Admittedly, it is not always easy to be joyful, and there will be ups and downs. Yet, Jehovah inspired the reassuring words that we find at Psalm 64:10. Even at times when we are discouraged, we can trust that those who prove themselves ‘righteous ones’ by remaining faithful despite changes in their circumstances “will rejoice in Jehovah.” Moreover, we can look forward to the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise of “new heavens and a new earth.” Then imperfection will be completely removed. All of God’s people will “exult and be joyful forever” in what he is creating and providing.—Isa. 65:17, 18.
Imagine what this will mean: enjoying perfect health and starting each day full of energy. No matter what deep emotional wounds there were in the past, painful memories of them will not remain. We are assured that “the former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart.” The miracle of the resurrection will reunite loved ones. Countless millions will feel as did the parents whose 12-year-old girl Jesus brought back to life: “They were beside themselves with great ecstasy.” (Mark 5:42) Ultimately, every person on earth will be a “righteous one” in the fullest sense of the word and, to all eternity, will “rejoice in Jehovah.”