You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11 ESV)
The Christian life is a pilgrimage that is incredibly different and unique for every born-again child of God. For some, the Master’s call to be fishers of men takes them down a danger-filled road that runs through the dark valley that is chilled by the shadow of death. For others, their journey is marked by relative peace as in the times of unrivaled prosperity and rest that the land of Israel knew during the reign of king Solomon. For some saints, the journey to the New Jerusalem is a painful but short one. And though they are executed for refusing to deny their Lord, they are not abandoned to Sheol but whisked away to their beloved Saviour’s side by the King’s chariots of fire. For others, their race is a marathon that takes them through the seemingly mundane, but very real trials of ordinary life. And whether the saint is battered on the road by Giant Despair of Doubting Castle or tempted to cease running because of the seductive power of the fleeting treasures of this world in Vanity Fair—with the LORD always before us, we will never be shaken. Though we may have no certainty concerning what trials lie ahead of us, we may have great confidence that the path of the cross that the Lord has revealed to us, is the true path of life. And at the end of this road lies the City of God where our ultimate hope is hidden.
How sweet this truth from God’s Word is! Sweeter than honey to our lips! Because God has made known to us the path of life, we know the way into the presence of God himself through the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And though our Good Shepherd might lead us into the wilderness, it is only so that we might reach the Promised Land where our soul will at last find green pastures and still waters. There in the presence of our Father, we will experience joy—not just temporary, earthly joy that comes and goes like the ebb and flow of the ocean’s waves—but complete, fullness of joy that overflows our cup!
How unlike our world this is! For all the joy we experience in this world is mixed with pain and sadness. David’s joy at the transportation of the ark was mingled with grief as the LORD struck Uzzah dead for placing his hand on the holy vessel. The apostle Paul’s joy at being caught up into the third heaven was mitigated by his severe thorn in the flesh that drove him to depend on God for daily grace. For us, the joy of marriage will one day be replaced by the sadness of death. The joy of new possessions and growth will be tempered by the painful effects of aging. In this world, we taste only the little drippings of joy that spill from the overflowing cup of heavenly joy that awaits us in the presence of God. There in heaven, we will never again feel our heavenly Father frown at us on account of our sins for we will be sinless. We will never again feel the aches and pains of old age and toil in this sin-cursed world. We will know only unbridled joy as our immortal bodies leap and bound through the streets of the New Jerusalem that gleam with the glory of God. We will age day by day yet have the joy of remaining forever young. And finally, we will have the ultimate delight of the Psalmist—to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to bask in the joy of the One who is the giver of all good gifts and unending joy. Oh, how incomparable heavenly joy is! Joy so full that it makes the joys of this world seem like nothing. Joy so complete that we could never possibly imagine ourselves happier!
And not only joy, the Psalmist says, but pleasures forevermore. Not just for a time, but forever. Even when one million years have passed according to our earthly calendar, it will not even equal one hour on heaven’s calendar in eternity. The toil of serving those who cannot repay us day in and day out, will be replaced with an eternity of being served by God’s ministering servants—the angels of heaven. The ravages of chronic illness will be replaced by immortality and eternal health. The pain of severed relationships on this earth will give way to the pleasures of heavenly friendships that will never again be strained by the effects of sin. Prisoners shall have boundless freedom, the hungry will feast always at the dining table of the Lamb. The tears we have shed on this earth will be wiped away by the finger of Jesus himself whose very presence will ensure that no foul thing will ever come through the gates of the New Jerusalem that are never shut night or day. Perfect, unending love. Perfect, unending worship of the living God. Here on earth, joy enters into us. But in the King’s land, we will enter into joy. On that final day, the ungodly will drink the wine of the wrath of God full strength, but we who are faithful to our Lord unto death will drink the water from the river of life full strength, with overflowing joy.
Christian, do you long to taste the fullness of joy that is found only in the presence of our God? Does your soul pant and thirst after the living God? Do you realize that the light tastes of joy that you have on earth are but little drops that have fallen from the fullness of the river of delight in heaven? Do the eternal pleasures that are at our Lord’s right hand cause you to tear your gaze away from the transient, lackluster joys of this world and fix your eyes on Christ? Does the fullness of joy that awaits you in the Lord’s presence not make your present, light momentary afflictions seem so small? Be encouraged Christian as you run your race and do not give up. For though the finish line may seem far away, our Lord waits for you there with the victor’s crown. And when you have finished the race and kept the faith by his strength, you will have your soul’s ultimate reward—the joy and pleasure of the presence of God himself, forever.