It’s an emotion that is undoubtedly part of the human experience. And like all emotions, there can be different levels.
Some people have a gift for spreading gladness. It could be with humor that invokes laughter, or simply cheeriness and brightness that brings a smile to others’ faces. It’s part of their personalities. This level has “breadth” in the sense that the gladness can be highly contagious and crosses many barriers to connect even strangers. In a crowd where most people are strangers to each other, it can drastically alleviate tension and awkwardness. This level, however, lacks “depth.” The emotion is brief and fleeting and generally impression-less.
For me, a deeper level of gladness conjures up the image of meeting with old friends, perhaps from childhood, each of us journeying back along our respective paths that the years have separately carved out for us. All of us sitting at a table, sipping hot beverages and nibbling on scrumptious pastries, as we heartily catch up and reminisce together. At times there is mirth, at others maybe sadness, and still others, comfortable silence – but all throughout there is warmth and closeness. This level, though more profound, lacks “breadth,” because it can only be shared among familiar friends who have a rich history together.
Now I’d like to attempt to describe another kind of gladness; one that has both breadth (can be shared by people who may not know each other well) and depth (can still penetrate to the heart and soul). This is a gladness that I’ve only experienced with certain members of the church. It’s a gladness that David aptly describes in Psalm 119:74:
Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, Because I have hoped in Your word.
I first took notice of this verse when someone shared about it at EWR 2009 in Calgary. This gladness is different in that it doesn’t stem from humor or cheeriness or even close friendship; the source of the gladness is hope in the Word of God.
When I meet a member who is so purely and genuinely devoted and dedicated to God, that person evokes a gladness and admiration that is so intriguingly wonderful. In my mind I can think of very specific individuals who, despite not knowing them as well as many of my friends, bring me such joy in the Lord when I think about them. People who, when I cross paths with them, cause me to inwardly proclaim a heartfelt “Hallelujah!” Somehow, when I see them, I am assured of the faithfulness of God’s Word.
This is a gladness that stirs up a desire to draw nearer to God. One that renews hope in God’s promises, calling us upward as we toil and struggle together in this world. It is a foretaste of the pleasant fellowship we will share with each other and with the Lord in heaven.
These people are such wonderful blessings in my life. I hope someday, when I learn to truly trust and hope in the Word of God, I may bring this same gladness to those who see me.