Joy is a fruit brought by the Holy Ghost. With man, joy is impossible even in the most hilarious party. With God, joy is possible, even in the most hopeless prison. See Madame Guyon being hunted like an animal for sharing her faith. Then she was cruelly imprisoned for years. With immeasurable joy she wrote:
A little bird I am, Shut in from fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing, To him who placed me there:
Well pleased a prisoner to be, Because, my God, it please thee!
Naught have I else to do, I sing the whole day long;
And He whom I most love to please doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing, And still He bends to hear me sing.
Thou hast an ear to hear, A heart to love and bless;
And though my notes were e’er so rude, Thou wouldst not hear the less;
Because thou knowest as they fall, That love, sweet love, inspires them all.
My cage confines me round, Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound, My heart’s at liberty;
My prison walls cannot control The flight, the freedom of the soul.
Oh, it is good to soar, These bolts and bars above,
To him whose purpose I adore, Whose providence I love:
And in thy mighty will to find The joy, the freedom of the mind.
God given joy gives us conquering strength in any difficulty. But the mystery to many is how to acquire this joy. We know that in God’s presence is fullness of joy. (Ps. 16:11) And at the right hand of God there are pleasures for evermore. Those who by living meek and holy lives dwell in the presence of God are privy to God’s joy. But what about those who are righteous and have been filled with the Spirit of God and yet are in heaviness through manifold temptation. Heartfelt joy in these times seems to be a stranger. In the midst of such trials, what is key to such joy that seems to be so elusive? Praise! God inhabits the praise of His people. (Ps. 22:3) And remember that in His presence is fullness of joy. God draws near when we earnestly vocalize praises to God. We pass through the portals and enter into the grand courtroom of God as we purposefully thank Him. He ushers us through the seeming ceilings of brass and into His Majesty’s presence by means of praise. For we enter into His courts with thanksgiving and into his gates with praise, where there is abundance of joy.
Madame Guyon said, “The stones of my prison looked like rubies; I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which Thou givest them who love thee, in the midst of their greatest crosses.” She was so filled with praises that she composed and sang this song.
Strong are walls around me, That hold me all the day:
But they who thus have bound me Cannot keep God away:
My very dungeon walls are dear Because the God I love is here.
They know, who thus oppose me, ‘Tis hard to be alone;
But know not One can bless me Who comes through bars and stone.
He makes my dungeon’s darkness bright And fills my bosom with delight.
God draws near and gives His overflowing joy when He is sufficiently praised.