Rick Warren says ‘Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation’ and so joy cannot be equated with happiness and pleasure. It is more deep-seated, accompanying a feeling of peace and more lasting than happiness and pleasure.

The I Reading on 5th October 2015 was from the Book of Jonah where poor Jonah flees from the Lord’s presence. He paid his fare and boarded the ship bound for Tarshish in order to get away from the Lord. Jonah might not have been familiar with the lines in Ps. 139. ‘Where could I go to escape your spirit? Where could I flee from your presence?’

Whatever Jonah might have tried to do to get away from the Lord’s presence, the Lord did not abandon him. He sent a mighty storm to turn the sea rough. Then Jonah having realized his mistake asked the crew to throw him into the sea; the sea turned calm…. And we know the rest of it.

A quiet joy filled my being when reading this passage and reflecting on it. How often I try to escape from God’s ways marked out for me. But His infinite mercy does not abandon me. The Hound of Heaven tracks me down in the mire of my folly to lift me up to an awareness that He is the Doer in my life and what He does is and will always be the best. There is no pleasant feeling or happiness accompanying it, but an inner conviction to surrender more totally to His plans for me.

The passage from the Book of Habakkuk which we recite on Friday (II Week) Morning Prayer is another source of deep joy –

‘For even though the fig does not blossom, nor fruit grow on the vine, even though the olive crop fail, and fields produce no harvest, even though flocks vanish from the folds and stalls stand empty of cattle, yet I will rejoice in the Lord and exult in God my Saviour’.

Even after yielding to Him and His will (maybe half heartedly) there are times when I find myself an utter failure and a sort of emptiness fills my life; the Lord then gives me the inner strength to rely on Him alone and not on external successes and glory. It is then a feeling of peace and joy pervades with the assurance that all is not lost. He is still there with me. His promise is there as He told the disciples in Matt. 28:20b – ‘And remember, I am with you always even to the end of the age’.

When Jesus chides Thomas saying, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (John 20:29), a secret joy wells up from the thought that Jesus has me among the ‘Blessed’; the same joy rests when I read Jn.17:20 – ‘I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me’.

The Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah have so many passages to give us the joy we need in our consecrated life:
‘Every moment I water it, for fear its leaves should fall. Night and day I watch over it.’ (Is.27:3) If He is so watchful over the vineyard, then how much more we, the brides of Christ!

‘But Yahweh is waiting to be gracious to you, to rise and take pity on you,’ (Is. 30:18)

‘You are my servant, I have chosen you, not rejected you, do not be afraid, for I am with you; stop being anxious and watchful, for I am your God. I give you strength, I bring you help, I uphold you with my victorious right hand.’ (Is. 41: 9b,10)

‘For I, Yahweh, your God, I am holding you by the right hand; I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you.’ (Is.41: 13)

‘Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched and the flames will not burn you. For I am Yahweh, your God.’ (Is.43:2,3)

‘I will go before you ….I will give you the hidden treasures… that you may know that I am Yahweh, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name…..Though you do not know me, I arm you…..apart from me, all is nothing.’ (Is.45:2 – 5)

‘In your old age I shall be still the same, when your hair is grey I shall still support you. I have already done so, I have carried you, I shall still support and deliver you.’ (Is.46:4)

‘Yahweh called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.’ ‘Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you. See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands’ (Is. 49: 1b,15b,16a)

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you;’ (Jer.1:5)

‘Follow right to the end the way that I mark out for you, and you will prosper’. (Jer.7:23b)

‘I know the plans I have in mind for you….plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you…(Jer.29:11)

There are, of course, many more passages in the Bible that may touch our hearts striking a note of joy in us spreading comfort and peace, giving us the inner strength we need amidst turmoil and confusion.

Pope Francis exhorts – ‘Joy is not a useless ornament. It is a necessity, the foundation of human life. In their daily struggles, every man and woman tries to attain joy and abide in it with the totality of their being. In the world there is often a lack of joy. We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high-sounding words, but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved.’

May our lives bear witness to this certainty that we are loved and the confidence that we are saved. This is more than enough to give us that spirit of joy.


Sister Nirmala Francis A.C. (1602)
Provincial House
Mangalore 575 001


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