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Looking Back – Meditation


On September 1 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany.

The Second World War had officially begun and Britain faced a bleak future.

In October 1939, a meditation on joy was printed in that month’s Life and Work magazine. It seems to anticipate some of the impending horrors to come and perhaps, seek to give comfort. It is uncredited.


How much there is in the New Testament about joy! It is an impression that comes afresh with every rereading. This does not mean that there is very much about happiness, at least in the ordinary sense we give the word; there is much more about tribulation than about happiness. But the joy of the New Testament is a joy that men may possess alike in happiness and in tribulation, and indeed it might almost be said that ‘joy in tribulation’ is the most characteristic of all New Testament conceptions. Dr Gilbert Murray has commented on the fact that, though the Greek tragedies ended in what according to ordinary, mundane standards was nothing but defeat and death, yet the spectators left the theatre feeling that ‘nothing was here for tears’; and he adds that this foreshadows ‘some profounder scheme of values in which suffering is not the worst of things not happiness the best’.

It is this profounder scheme of values that is at last realised in the New Testament. Shallow critics have sometimes made the mistake of supposing that Christianity encourages men to be sad when they might be happy. What it actually does is to show men how they can be joyful even in days when they must needs be sad.

Such days now face us all. Anxiety and suffering await us. Life has suddenly been robbed of all its superficial happiness.

But for the Christian it should not have been robbed of its underlying joy. Such joy is a necessary component of all Christianity, and a frame of mind from which it is lacking is not a Christian frame of mind at all.

What is the secret of this joy? It lies in the knowledge that we are held fast in a Love from which we can be separated neither by tribulation not distress nor persecution nor famine nor nakedness nor peril nor sword. It lies in the assurance that in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

Prevous: Communion On The Moon

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