Have you ever heard the story of Saint Francis of Accissi and his explanation of true joy? I have been pondering it a lot the last few months. The full story can be read here. To sum it up, St. Francis was walking with Brother Leo and he told the following story: They arrive at the monastary where they are to serve. They are dirty and cold and desire to enter. But the doorkeeper believes they are criminals and sends them away. So they go to the neighboring town and ask for housing. But no one provides. So they return to the monastary begging to be allowed in. Instead the doorkeeper comes out and beats them till they collapse on the ground. At the end they are lieing cold and wounded outside in the freezing rain. True joy, says St. Francis, is if at that point there is no anger in your heart.
A clean conscience, a free heart, a spirit that is alive in God and cleansed of iniquity, a heart response that says yes to God and no to sin. That is true joy. I want it.
I was prompted in these meditations by my perusal of Psalm 32. I love the psalms of David; so emotional and human and yet he turns again and again to God. David, in this psalm, says basically the same thing at St. Francis, but with different words. Check it out:
“Blessed in he whose transgression is forgiven” – David understands the freedom and blessing of a heart forgiven. (and the heart who chooses to forgive!) That person is blessed and happy.
“He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.” – I love this verse. The mercy of the Lord surrounds him who trusts in God. It gives me the picture of Revelation 4, where the emerald rainbow surrounds the throne of God. The picture of mercy surrounding you.
So, “Be glad and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”. That is true joy, when trouble surrounds, we trust in God’s mercy and our heart sings his praises.