…but joy comes with the morning.
you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.
for the righteous man will never be moved…he is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord…
Last night, I drove in the wee hours of the morning, through the pouring rain, to board a plane to Oklahoma where my dad has been in the ICU for the past week. As I drove, I reflected on the gripping reality that I could be saying goodbye to my dad. I am hopeful and trusting in the Lord for his full recovery, but I still had to grapple with the possibility that this could be it. While acknowledging the total and perfect sovereignty of God in my life and my dad’s health, and resting in the peace that this brings, I still found myself weeping and challenging God that this can’t be it; that he can’t take my dad yet, that there are still too many things that my dad has to do with his life before the Lord can take him: walk me down the aisle, hold the children I may have one day.
It was then then that I realized how my love for this world and the things of this world is still so ingrained in my heart and mind that all I could feel was worldly grief, and my sorrow overshadowed my desire for the glory of God.
But God, being rich in mercy, yet again brought me to the cross. In the cross is this astoundingly beautiful reality of true joy in the midst of suffering. For in the cross of Christ, we are presented with this depiction of worldly grief and sorrow, that the King of the Jews, the Appointed Messiah, was struck down; that darkness reigns, evil has triumphed. But we know that this is not true because God’s word is never in error, and the Word of God became flesh in Christ, and Christ triumphed over evil on the third day when he overcame the grave.
And this, the gospel, is the Christian’s joy in suffering. See, I have always been apt to pay lip service and mental assent to James 1, to count it all joy in suffering, without really coming to grips with what that really means. But the gospel shows us the even in the depths of our despair, when we are weeping in our sorrow, we have joy in the fact – not in the feeling, but the fact – that God’s word never fails and this is fully realized in Christ.
So, I am reminded of beautiful promises from scripture that encourage me to be strong, that at His hand are pleasures forevermore and in Him there is fullness of joy; that strength and dignity are my clothing and I don’t dread the days to come because I am planted firm in the Lord.
This is my joy. The cross is my joy. Christ is my joy.