Our Unspeakable Joy

Todd Stiles   -  

Joy. It’s the emotion that goes public. When you experience it, other people usually know it.

Sometimes we shout because of our joy, like at a game or athletic event. Other times we share because of our joy, like at the birth of a child—“It’s a girl!” Or when we got engaged. Still at other times we sing because of our joy, belting out a melody from the bottom of our heart. In so many ways, joy inevitably bursts forth—is expressed—in words when the heart is full.

Yet, the Bible describes a type of joy that is inexpressible.

Wait a minute—a joy that is impossible to put into words? Yes! Odd as it may seem, that’s the thought behind 1 Peter 1:8 where Peter states that God’s people, when they think about the Lord whom they haven’t seen but believe and love and can’t wait to see, “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”

Those ten words are life altering! To think that we could have such an incredibly deep and high response of joy that we aren’t able to articulate it in words makes my head spin. Or that we could long for Jesus’ return with such weighty and passionate anticipation that we aren’t able to express it in the language we know—hard to imagine being that speechless.

But such is the result of truly embracing Advent. As we meditate upon our Lord’s first coming, then wait eagerly for his second coming, I am convinced we will find ourselves at a loss for words. It’s inspired silence, not due to nothing to say, but because there is so much to say. So much that we don’t know where to start. It’s the kind of response that isn’t only breathtaking, but, according to Peter, “word taking” as well.

Keep in mind this kind of response doesn’t indicate a loss of joy, but quite the opposite—a fullness of joy. A joy that is all-consuming, so much so that verbal descriptions and exclamations escape us. They, too, are consumed in the moment of rapturous delight where our tongues get tied and our souls get stirred by the One we have come to trust and desire to see; the One in whom we have placed all our faith regarding what is and what is to come. That’s joy inexpressible.

Please don’t think Peter is saying we shouldn’t try to express our joy. Sure we should! Whenever you can, shout, share, and sing to the glory of the Lord. Let your heart exult in Christ your Savior verbally. Visually. Loudly. Without apology.

But when you experience moments when the joy is so pervasive that it overrides even normal pronunciation, take heart—it’s still joy. Undeniable joy. Simply inexpressible joy. May that kind of joy rise up in us regularly, leaving us in awe and wonder of the Christ who has come and will come again.

Pastor Todd