What’s at the bottom of your Joy?
When victory is sweet, when crises are resolved, when good things happen and God’s hand is made evident, JOY is natural. The Old Testament makes much of celebrating victories. Annual feasts were part of the Law of God for His people. “Celebrate!” was a command. With good reason. So soon we forget what He’s done on our behalf and settle back into an anxious mentality focused on the things we yet face.
Our family had a great victory this week. The legal issues that were before us (which I likened to crossing the Red Sea in last time’s post) vanished with breath-taking speed this week when the ‘opposition’ called a quick conference in which they conceded to the fairness of our complaint and agreed to make prompt payment of unpaid bills. It was jaw-dropping awesome how God swooped in and upheld our case! But what was more surprising (appalling really) was my heart’s response.
My elation over what God had done on our behalf was so short lived. I scarcely had time to share the good news with a few who had prayed before I felt my joy receding, edged out by the conflict to come over one thorny monetary detail not addressed. It’s one thing to concede a case but another to fully restore what has been lost. The juxtaposition of the exhilarating celebration with which Exodus 15 begins and the bitter complaint with which it concludes is telling. For truly, the crossing of the Red Sea was just the beginning of a journey through the desert, a journey which would take a lifetime. There was a LOT more that could go wrong, a LOT more that would cast the children of Israel into abject dependence on God and a LOT more opportunity for doubt and despair…
So quickly God’s awesome displays of power on our behalf can be lost from sight. Perhaps this is why He commands celebration. Rejoice in what I’ve done for you, lest you forget…
The Spirit is faithful to convict and lead and I duly bowed my head in repentance at the recognition of this foul condition of my heart in light of God’s evident goodness, before rushing out the door to a committment. But oh the nearness of our God, as I turned the key in the ignition to drive off, this song sang out:
Let the joy begin, let our songs ring out
Let our hearts be glad, love has banished doubt
See the empty cross, all our debts are gone
Only grace remains, for the victory’s won
Oh what a day, what a glorious day
Oh what a day, what a glorious day
When You conquered death
And rose up from the grave
What a day!
What a day!
I could only smile a great big smile and press the gas pedal with a fresh thrill of joy at being so known, and loved anyway!
Of course, the victory which is our greatest joy is incomparable with trivial matters of money and health care. But should not this Joy of all joys be my underlying source so that I need not be so cautious in my celebration of earth’s little joys? They won’t bottom out, except into the expanse of God’s eternal glory.
I listened this morning to John Piper expound on what sets the believer apart from the one who names the name but has a short-sighted self-centric ‘faith’ which falls short of God’s intention for us. His opening question: “Do you feel more loved by God because He makes much of you, or because through Christ He enables you to make much of Him forever?” I heartily recommend his challenging thoughts!
(I know, ‘happy’ is a little trite–this is the NLT of Proverbs 16:20–but certainly when we trust Him there will be deep joy unruffled by loose ends. This is the state I want to live in, one that finds its foundation in God!)
(Whoops, written on Friday, but somehow having eluded being posted!)
3 thoughts on “Let the Joy Begin!”
I’m not sure how to start this and that is saying something coming from me. First, I ought to say, praise Jesus! His grace is beyond our comprehension. Secondly, we too had a victory in a long legal battle that culminated in a jury trial last week – of all things. Imagine this scene – not unlike in a movie – two ordinary women (relatives) acting pro se (representing themselves) up against a snarky, snarly, attorney representing the opposition. Imagine lies told, constant objections and at the end of the first day, the only prayer we could utter was Thy will be done.
The next morning after the opposition attorney, in his closing statement referred to the two women as Thelma and Louise, the jury was adjourned to deliberate. Honestly, given the other battles in recent years with satan that have not ended as we wanted, (though time revealed those apparent losses had some hidden blessings) I don’t think I was expecting the jury to return in 15 minutes with a unanimous decision in favor of the two women.
The jury stayed in the hall to meet the women and they all hugged and cried. You would have thought it was a capital murder trial, not just a civil law suit. But what we all knew was that God granted us a victory issued from mercy because He knows what we need when we need it. It was not just a win, it was so much more and involved so many layers and years of contention that provided closure, which doesn’t happen much in this messy life.
I understand about embracing the blessing, the win, and then springing back to the old way of thinking, fretting, focusing on the next thing. It took me the rest of the week to wrap my brain around the outcome. I’d wake up in the wee hours, half asleep still praying for mercy and then I’d realize – wait! It’s done!
Amazing we both had blessed wins in the same time frame – God really does have this doesn’t He?
Oh Meema, that is glorious! And I loved the retelling of it. Thank you for letting me share in your afterglow Closure is such a welcome relief. And when it comes in this lifetime, a sweet bonus! We are in Good hands indeed.
We are indeed! 🙂