Rock of Joy

Lately, my heart has been heavy, so heavy, with grief and pain for a lot of reasons – personal to global. Having a real struggle with that joy thing. Crying a lot, crying out to God. Then, all in one morning, the following blogs and daily devotionals show up in my email. A gift of grace and mercy. Emmanuel.  

Perhaps you are burdened with some sort of heavy grief. It could be over someone dear to you who is suffering, in trouble, or hurting. It could be a son or daughter who is backslidden, slowly sinking into the death of sin. Or it could be a loved one facing a severe, looming financial crisis. I say to all: Jesus Christ is moved by your grief. — David Wilkerson https://worldchallenge.org/devotion/burdened-heavy-grief?ref=devos  

The Oxford Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Psychiatry defines anxiety as “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” Anxiety is common to humanity; it lives on a spectrum and we know it when we feel it. But what is it, really? Here’s my take: anxiety is the felt experience of being unaware of the presence of God …  “Do not be anxious about anything.” Translation: be aware of the presence of God in all things all the time. — J.D. Walt 

Are you telling me that when I sing “Joy to the Word, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King” that I am proclaiming Jesus as King and Ruler of MY life? That “Let every heart prepare Him room” actually means room in MY heart? Are you wanting me to believe that every heart that dies to self is a heart that will sing? — blogged by Beholding Ministries https://beholdinghimministries.org/2020/12/18/i-adore-selah/ 

To magnify God is to look closely at him and take careful notice of his actions and attributes. Mary, the mother of Jesus, did exactly that. We read an example in the account of her visit to Cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) … For ten verses (Luke 1:46-55), Mary magnifies the Lord, examining the reason for her joy (vs. 46-49) and looking closely at God’s attributes and actions (50-55). Never mind her relative poverty, the misunderstanding and derision of others, or the uncertainty of the future. Mary focused on God who was working a miracle within her. — Nancy Ruegg https://nancyaruegg.com/2020/12/17/marys-joy-our-joy/  

How do I choose life? I am becoming aware that there are few moments without the opportunity to choose, since death and life are always before me. One aspect of choosing life is choosing joy. Joy is life-giving but sadness brings death. A sad heart is a heart in which something is dying. A joyful heart is a heart in which something new is being born. — Henry J.M. Nouwen 

In Psalm 30:5, the psalmist says joy is found on the other side of suffering — weeping lasts the night, ‘but joy comes with the morning’ … it is just as true that my night of weeping would give way, in due time, to a tearless joy. That’s what I think the psalmist means when he says that joy follows sorrow. There are waves of sorrow and pain and loss that break, big waves that break, over the unshakable rock of Christian joy, and these waves submerge the laughter in the surging. You can feel it: the surging surf of weeping that wells up unbidden from your heart. But they don’t dislodge the rock, and the waves recede in due time, and the rock glistens again in tearless sunlight … The rock of joy is submerged in grief, but it is not dislodged, overthrown, or removed. — John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-joy-come-after-suffering-or-in-it  

Image, Rocks and Surf in Iceland by Timbu https://flic.kr/p/SwwxzG

When You Are In Darkness

I will give you the treasures (storehouse, treasury, magazine of weapons in the armory of God)

of darkness (misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, obscurity, night)

and hidden wealth (buried treasure) of secret places,

So that you may know (perceive, recognize, comprehend, understand)

that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel,

who calls (summons, invites, calls for, calls and commissions, calls and endows, appoints) you by your name. Isaiah 45:3 (NASB) 

Aurora borealis may be stunningly spread across the sky, but we may not be able to see because there is too much light. The darker the night, the better viewing … Your black clouds give the sun its chance. It is surprise, it is escape from darkness to light that makes life so rich. Your prison is also your paint box from which all the beauty you know is pouring. — Frank Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic 

The dark is not your fault, the dark is not about blame. The dark is about bravely being a canvas for light — about courageously letting your dark be a canvas for sparks of God glory, a backdrop for ambers of mercy in the midst of your fire. — Ann Voskamp[i]  

When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest 

Slowly you will discover God’s love in your suffering. Your heart will begin to approve the whole thing. You will learn from yourself what all the schools in the world could not teach you-the healing action of faith without supporting pleasure. You will feel and understand the ministry of the night; its power to purify, to detach, to humble, to destroy the fear of death and, what is more important to you at the moment, the fear of life. And you will learn that sometimes pain can do what even joy cannot, such as exposing the vanity of earth’s trifles and filling your heart with longing for the peace of heaven. — A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian, pp. 124 

What to do with our losses? . . . We must mourn our losses. We cannot talk or act them away, but we can shed tears over them and allow ourselves to grieve deeply. To grieve is to allow our losses to tear apart feelings of security and safety and lead us to the painful truth of our brokenness. Our grief makes us experience the abyss of our own life in which nothing is settled, clear, or obvious, but everything is constantly shifting and changing. . . . But in the midst of all this pain, there is a strange, shocking, yet very surprising voice. It is the voice of the One who says: “Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.” That’s the unexpected news: there is a blessing hidden in our grief. Not those who comfort are blessed, but those who mourn! Somehow, in the midst of our tears, a gift is hidden. Somehow, in the midst of our mourning, the first steps of the dance take place. Somehow, the cries that well up from our losses belong to our songs of gratitude. – Henri Nouwen

When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in.  Psalm 112:4a (NLT) 

Image copyright Derek Bair


[i] Ann Voskamp, The Christian Church, Suicide & Mental Health: When It’s Down to the Wire & Things Are on Fire, blog September 10, 2019