Blessed be the LORD,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.
Psalm 28:6-9 (NASB)
Hymn: "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" Henry Van Dyke, Ludwig van Beethoven
At the very end of John 16, we get the sobering reminder from Christ that we will have trouble in the world. This life of walking with God will not be easy and it will put us at odds with the world around us. Consider just the thoughts from yesterday, that we must be open doors even while the world around us erects more walls. But Jesus doesn't end that thought with the warning of coming trials. That there will be trouble is part of a sandwich of encouragement, as He says that "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NASB).
Paul understood this well when he told the Corinthians in chapter 16 of his first letter to them that he will be staying in Ephesus until Pentecost because of an opportunity that had arisen that was accompanied by adversity. He does not offer the adversity as a counter-point, but as part of his explanation for why he had to remain.
What drives this? Joy. If our hearts are fixed on Christ and take their pleasure from Him, we can face troubles in this life with peace and courage, and view them as a part of our joy rather than a hindrance. Paul reminds Timothy of this very idea twice in rapid succession.
But godliness [actually] is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness...
...Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. [Instruct them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
1 Timothy 6:6-11, 17-19 (NASB)
In the first, he is contrasting our joy and contentment with controversy and the arrogance of opposing the gospel. In the latter, he is commanding Timothy to remind people to look beyond their Earthly circumstances to find their joy in service to Christ. Isaiah, on the other hand, offers warning to those who do rely on their own circumstances to give them meaning and hope and joy.
"Your covenant with death will be canceled,
And your pact with Sheol will not stand;
When the overwhelming scourge passes through,
Then you become its trampling [place.]
As often as it passes through, it will seize you;
For morning after morning it will pass through, [anytime] during the day or night,
And it will be sheer terror to understand what it means.
The bed is too short on which to stretch out,
And the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.
Isaiah 28:18-20 (NASB)
Over and over again, scripture warns us that looking to anything of this world to bring us joy will end in misery, placing our hope in Earthly things and circumstances will bring terror. We must learn to look beyond this life to the giver of all life, the One who is Life itself. In Him we may find our true joy. But while we dwell in this flesh and look with these fallen eyes, we can expect to struggle against despair. We must continually go to God in prayer and in His word, and ask Him to renew the joy in our lives. He who is our joy, who made us to find our joy in Him, surely knows how to deliver joy to us.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation