(By Rachel Joyce)
“And he [Judas] went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus” (Luke 22:4-6 NLT).
These words have been in the back of my mind all week. “They were delighted.” The hearts of the priests and captains of the Temple guard were filled with gladness when Judas agreed to deliver Jesus up to them. Knowing that He would soon be in their power brought them great delight. That word translated “delighted” is the Greek word chairō (χαίρω). Thayer defines it “to be glad, to rejoice exceedingly.” What we find delight in says a lot about who we are and what our values are.
So what about you? What brings joy to your heart and makes you glad?
After the resurrection, when the Lord appeared to His disciples and showed them His hands and feet, John records, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20 ESV). Realizing that He was truly alive and present with them, they were overwhelmed with joy. They loved Him, so His presence delighted their hearts.
Years later, when the servant of the Lord, Barnabas, went to the church in Antioch and saw the evidence of the grace of God, He was glad (χαίρω). The grace of God working in the people of God made his heart rejoice.
In 1 Peter 4:12-13, the apostle Peter reminded the Christians scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia:
Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad (χαίρω)—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy (χαίρω) of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.
Peter was telling the oppressed people of God that these very trials which seemed to be working against them were actually working for them, to help them identify with Christ in His sufferings. And one day they would be glad (χαίρω) because they would see God’s glory in all its fullness.
Being glad in our trials does not come naturally. When the pain level increases, I’m tempted to despair. Sometimes I want to give up, but God reminds me that He is with me. His presence is cause for gladness despite the pain.
Joy and sorrow mingle.
I cry to Him for grace, His enabling power, to help me and as He answers and quiets my heart with His love, I can rejoice, even in the midst of deep disappointment and grief. They are not mutually exclusive; when we have Jesus, we have the Lord of life and hope.
He is the Healer and when He chooses to allow us to continue in our suffering, we sometimes don’t know how to reconcile our reality with the truth of who He is. Sometimes we question His love. Sometimes we question His power.
Oh, we believe it cognitively, but it doesn’t touch our hearts. So we detach. The theology in our heads does not match the theology of our hearts. Our hearts hurt and we cannot understand how a loving God would not act.
He acts for others. Why not us? And how on earth are we supposed to be glad in this trial which threatens to consume us?
His presence. His grace. Without them we’d go under; we’d never make it.
When the trial seems too severe, we need to turn our eyes to Calvary. Look at what Jesus did in order to make us His own. Remember how He suffered. He chose that, so we could be His.
His love is undeniable. When we meditate on His tender love for us, it soothes and comforts us; it calms our frantic grasping for answers. We need to know He loves us. We need to know He’s with us.
His presence makes all the difference.
We cannot make it on our own. The struggle is too great. His grace strengthens us day by day. His presence steadies us, fills us with hope and gladdens our hearts.