I’ve discovered that joy is contagious. If I surround myself with joyful people I become more joyful myself. Reading a great biography has the same affect. Even though I am separated by time and space, I get to spend time with a person who has overcome despair with hope and discovered joy even along sorrow’s path.
When I develop a relationship with a joyful person (whether in real life or in a book) I often feel embarrassed by the silly, little things that I permit to steal my joy. It’s humbling, but it forces me to take responsibility to reclaim joy that I might otherwise forfeit.
Spending time with Richard Wurmbrand has been both humbling and refreshing. His autobiography Tortured For Christ chronicles his tremendous suffering under Russian occupied Romania after WW2. When the communists took over, he was arrested for preaching and suffered unspeakable torture in prison for 14 years. He writes about the Holy Spirit’s power to free prisoner’s hearts from despair even under the worst circumstances.
“I have seen Christians in Communist prisons with fifty pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold — praying with fervor for the Communists. This is humanly inexplicable. It is the love of Christ, which was poured in our hearts… Other prisoners and even the guards often wondered how happy Christians could be under the most terrible circumstances. We could not be prevented from singing, although we were beaten for this… Around me were “Jobs” — some much more afflicted than Job had been. But I knew the end of Job’s story, how he received twice as much as he had before.” (Chapter 4: Defeating Communism with the Love of Christ)
Richard Wurmbrand started a ministry called “Voice of the Martyrs”. Surprisingly many voices you’ll hear are unrelentingly joyful. I recommend you spend time with them. Learn more at www.persecution.com