Thursday, January 8, 2009
This week I learned:
"Chara, the Greek word for joy, means calm delight. The greatest concentration of chara in the New Testament is found in John 16, where Jesus uses the word four times within five verses. Between a warning of coming persecution and the darkest hours the disciples would ever know, Jesus speaks to them of joy...For the disciples, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead became a permanent anchor in their lives of joy--not a giddy form of denial, but a calm, ever-present delight."
--from online devotional "a joy that is full"
by alicia britt chole, http:/www.truthportraits.com/
This definition of joy captures me. As we studied biblical holidays last year I felt uneasily challenged by God's commands to celebrate and feast joyfully for whole weeks at a time. These words painted a picture for me of long-lasting large-crowd high-energy giddiness, which seemed like a lot of WORK! Since an important element of each holiday seemed to be refreshment, I was confused. What really seemed preferable and possible to me, especially as we were learning so many new things, were celebrations marked by...calm delight.
I was so excited when I opened my devotional email Monday morning and found that my heart and scripture actually agree on this point! :~)
I find that chara is not limited to biblical holidays or grave circumstances. Sometimes we find it in the strangest, most unexpected places. While I am not walking in as dark a place as the disciples in John 16, I was blessed with chara at God's provision for me again just this afternoon. A month ago when I placed an order for 20 lbs. of organic skinless boneless chicken thighs, in the online photo they appeared to be one solid, frozen mass. Since then I've wondered how I was going to defrost all those thighs enough to divide them into 2-lb. packages without ruining them. When they arrived today I was on the phone concluding a lengthy editing session, and was completely delighted when I opened the box and found ten 2-lb. packages! While I did not climb on the table and dance a jig or whoop and holler into the phone, I had to ask my caller to give me his ear while I shared my "calm delight" and recently acquired understanding of chara! (He did so lavishly.)
I guess my joy hasn't worn off yet--I'm sharing it with you, too! ;~) Organic chicken thighs will not be an ever-present delight in my life, but today I can certainly relate them to my permanent anchor, Christ. May the fact that He rose from the dead give you a calm, ever-present joy as well.