“Joy abides with God, and it comes down from God and embraces spirit, soul, and body; and where this joy has seized a person, there it spreads, there it carries one away, there it bursts open closed doors…
The joy of God has gone through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable. It does not deny the anguish, when it is there, but ﬁnds God in the midst of it, in fact precisely there; it does not deny grave sin but ﬁnds forgiveness precisely in this way; it looks death straight in the eye, but it ﬁnds life precisely within it.
What matters is this joy that has overcome. It alone is credible; it alone helps and heals.
…we are enabled to believe that there was and is One to whom no human suffering or sin is foreign and who in deepest love accomplished our redemption. Only in such joy in Christ the Redeemer shall we be preserved from hardening ourselves where human suffering encounters us.”
(Letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, November 29, 1942 — This excerpt is from a personal letter that was passed among persecuted Christian leadership during WWII in Germany. It was written a few months before Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Nazis, taken to prison and eventually executed because of his faith. Pastors and Christians who would not bow to Hitler’s regime were being imprisoned and killed, and Bonhoeffer writes to encourage and strengthen those who are still alive, but know that they are facing probable, imminent arrest. This excerpt taken from The Invincible, Irrefutable Joy, by Tony Reinke, Dec. 12, 2012)
Engraving: Asleep on the Hay, from the Young Folks Bible in Words of Easy Reading: The Sweet Stories of God’s Word in the Language of Childhood, 1890.