• Dwight Dunn

Glow in the Dark Joy

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

April 4, 2020

The Disciples’ Darkness

Matters were dark for Jesus’ followers (disciples). Imagine the depth of the disciples’ sorrow on their last night with Christ prior to His crucifixion. Despite Jesus’ repeated statements that He would die for His people’s sin and rise again, they could only comprehend He was leaving them. These men had left everything to follow Christ and now He was going where they could not follow. What would they do now? Despite His assurances that He would send another Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in them and be with them, they felt orphaned. They had great hopes of what Jesus would do for them and their country and despite the fact He promised they would do greater things than Him when He ascended to the Father, they felt Jesus failed them. What would happen to their hopes and dreams? Further, Jesus said that the world would hate and persecute them like it did Him. If all of this wasn’t enough, Jesus told them the unthinkable: they would all deny Him. How could Jesus think this about them, they wondered? Despite their protests, Christ’s words would prove true very soon and they would compound their great sorrow with their crushing failure. What good were they to God? Their darkness was about to grow.

Jesus Shines Light in the Darkness

No wonder these guys were bummed out! Jesus knew that His teaching, designed to warn His friends and prevent them from falling away, filled their hearts with sorrow. With the cross looming before Him, our selfless Savior focuses not on Himself but on His followers and shines light into their darkness. Jesus instructs them in the joy He provides so that they do not crumble under grief. He assures them that their sorrow will turn to joy. So too, as we embrace the resurrected Christ, we can experience great joy even in the midst of the great upheaval, loss, sorrow, and darkness the pandemic brings. Our sorrow can be transformed into victorious joy!

As we embrace the resurrected Christ, we can experience great joy even in the midst of the great upheaval, loss, sorrow, and darkness the pandemic brings.

John 16:20-24

Jesus informs his followers that when the Holy Spirit comes to them, He will guide them in all truth and declare Christ’s teaching to them. The Lord tells them that in a little while, they will see Him no longer but in another little while, they will see Him. Knowing that they wanted Him to explain this to them, Jesus says,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:20-24 ESV).


Jesus Christ’s perfect life, crucifixion, and resurrection are the means of reconciling us to God through faith in Jesus that instills true, spiritual joy in us. The Lord blesses us with many joys in this life (people to love, friends, jobs, food, success, etc.) but spiritual joy comes through faith in Jesus Christ that grants us new life (sins forgiven, a loving relationship with God, empowerment to follow Christ’s commands, the assurance of eternal life, etc.). Spiritual joy, unlike temporal joy, is not dependent on earthly circumstances but on Christ’s work. As a result, for a genuine believer in Christ, joy is firmly fixed in his/her heart; no one or no thing can take that joy from him/her. The virus may take much from us and cause great sorrow but it can never steal the inner, spiritual joy of one who believes and lives in Jesus. Jesus shines light in the darkness: “no one will take your joy from you” (16:22).


In order to soothe their sorrow, Jesus tells His followers that He will send the Holy Spirit to be with them and dwell in them. When Jesus ascends to heaven, He pours out His Spirit on His followers. The Bible teaches that joy is a fruit of the Spirit and since the Holy Spirit dwells with those who believe in Christ, they possess a great joy that is not contingent on pleasant circumstances. In fact, this joy can thrive in adversity as we believe and obey God’s Word (John 16:13; 15:10-11) and pray according to the character and purposes of Christ’s name (16:23-24). As we encounter sorrow and darkness from the coronavirus, Christ shines the light of His promise that if we abide in Him and believe, obey, and pray as He describes, our joy will be full: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11, see also 16:24)


Jesus tells His friends that others will rejoice at His crucifixion while they will weep and lament. However, Jesus states that their sorrow will turn into joy. Before Christ’s resurrection, the crucifixion appeared as a total tragedy to the disciples. It was meaningless to them because they did not understand that through the crucifixion, God was paying for the sins of His people that He might forgive them and be reconciled to them. When Jesus rose from the dead however, the disciples did not see the cross as a tragedy but as a triumph! Their sorrow transformed into joy through Christ’s resurrection. While our suffering can never pay for our sin or the sin of others, we should see our suffering in light of God’s plan of renewing all things in Christ. Christ’s suffering and resurrection assures us that our suffering has meaning although that meaning may be hidden from us, sin and evil will not triumph, God will use what our enemy intends for evil for the accomplishment of good, and that glory follows suffering.

When Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples did not see the cross as a tragedy but as a triumph! Their sorrow transformed into joy through Christ’s resurrection.

The pandemic may bring great sorrow and darkness but the light of God’s promise assures us that “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 ESV).


Many forces may work to dampen our joy in Christ, and our joy may weaken for a time but nothing will take our joy from us or prevent us from realizing the joy of our victory in Christ. Christ’s joy is a victorious joy. Earlier in Jesus’ conversation with His friends, He assured them that He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and that He would come back to take them to be with Him forever. Christ’s abundant, permanent, transforming joy is the sure possession of all of those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Christ’s joy is ours to possess and cultivate in this life even in the midst of suffering but it is merely a foretaste of the glorious joy that awaits us at Christ’s return: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13 ESV). Dear child of God we are living in trying, dark times. People around us struggle with loss, fear, worry, doubt, and despair. Your heavenly Father has given you an inexpressible joy full of glory through Jesus Christ and the power of His Spirit – an abundant, permanent, transforming and victorious gladness of heart. Let your joy glow in these dark times. Be a light for Christ. Pray for those around you, selflessly serve those in need and invite them to follow Jesus that they also may share in the joy that sustains you. Let your joy glow in the dark until that day you hear the Lord’s reward: well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master!

Let your joy glow in the dark!

Suggest in the comments below how Christians can demonstrate and proclaim Christ’s joy to others in these dark times.

To read the other blog posts in this series click on the links below:

Sheltering in Peace

Buoyed by Hope

Waiting Well

Strength through Weakness

Delays of Love

Hoarding or Loving

Good News

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