We may need an anticipation correction. I know I do. Pastor, when you gather with the people of God do you anticipate their sorrow or their joy? Life is hard and Christians are “Real” after all. We can be honest. We mostly expect our people to be tired and busy.
The majority of you are not pastors, so let me let you in on a little secret about pastors conferences. Lots and lots of pastors are tired. So I hear. In fact, almost every pastors conference I have ever been too comes with an “expectation” starting point. The expectation is that the pastor has been running a marathon called life and he is exhausted. Finally, the pastor drags his sorry self to the conference so he can get a much needed drink of water! Come tired and sad, leave energized and happy.
So to the point of the post. I think that line of thinking is lame! Consider these passages. 1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “And you became imitator of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” Did you catch that! This is so crucial! Paul anticipated THE JOY of the people of God. Paul did not say “I know of your sufferings and I anticipate that you are tired and weary.” No! He expected joy through sufferings. This is astonishing! If I heard about the sufferings of a local church I don’t think I would have the audacity to use words like joy inexpressible! Oh but the Holy Spirit does!
To be fair and balanced, the Bible clearly teaches that there is a time to mourn. In fact, Jesus said something about that right? “Blessed are those that mourn.” Even in our gatherings there should be a weekly time of confession and mourning over sin. But week after week we come back to the One who conquered our sin for us! There is reason to be happy my friends!
I just got back from the Sojourn Leadership Conference. As I reflect on the time I spent with friends new and old I am pleased to say I spent some time with some joyful leaders. I am encouraged. Pastor, it really is possible to be happy! Christian, you can experience deep and abiding joy! By God’s grace I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, Biblical counselor, friend, and I am the happiest man on earth. Sorrow will come, but Sunday I am going to expect to see a joyful people!
How bout you?