Wednesday, March 18, 2009


One of the consistent themes throughout scripture is the promise that in the God’s presence we experience genuine joy even in the midst of suffering. The psalmist observed that although “sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Nehemiah reminded God’s people, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul continually exhorted his listeners to “rejoice in the Lord always,” even as he himself was imprisoned (Philippians 4:4). Time and again God’s people are called to live in joy.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I sometimes wonder if all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” The briefest of examinations of or lives reveals that our experiences of happiness and pleasure are not tantamount to deep and lasting joy. Happiness and pleasure are often transitory and unpredictable. Although these experiences of happiness and pleasure are an essential part of life, they cannot be relied upon to provide a sense of security and stability. Only the spiritual gift of joy can support and strengthen us in the midst of suffering. This joy directs our gaze upon the ultimate fruit of suffering, hope. As Paul reminds us, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us!

As we continue our Lenten journey of self-examination, let us consider the following question: Are we standing in God's grace and abiding in his joy or are we caught in the continual ebb and flow of worldly happiness and pleasure?

O Lord, we know that in your presence there is fullness of joy. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and strengthen us in the midst of suffering. Help us to seek your true and lasting joy rather than the transitory pleasures offered by the world. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


1 comment: