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Joy In The Small

The six of us sat around the table enjoying our meal of tacos as we somehow found ways to laugh and grab hold of normalcy.  Then one of us heard her voice call from the other room.  My daughter jumped up to see what was needed.  Upon returning she announced, “She wants a taco!”  And so, a small plate of our feast was made and delivered to the other room.  We gathered around the bed of my dying mother-in-law watching her savor a few bites of her favorite food.  She had proclaimed to a nurse just a few weeks prior that she couldn’t wait to be healed so she could enjoy a taco and a beer.  Although no beer was in sight this night, we all watched her take small bites of that tiny gift of a taco.  We cried in our laughter.  And I realized this was joy. 

For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds. Psalm 149: 4-5

I mentioned at the beginning of this week’s look at joy that God brought me into one of the most difficult experiences of my life not too long ago.  When we finally submit ourselves to God’s will we can look back over our lives and see the pruning He has done in us for our good.  Those trials and tests were given at just the right time for the right purpose.  To see our lives this way we must recognize not only the love He has for us but His soverenity over us.  He knows our timeline backwards and forwards.  It’s why we must give up telling God what to do and instead ask Him to reveal His will to us.  And although I don’t know what else He has in store for me in the coming years I do know He prepared me for the death of the woman who started me on my joy journey.

“(Jonathan) Edwards teaches us, then, of the God-centeredness of all joy in this fallen world.  He reminds us that the formula to joy is not God and _____ so much as God in ___.”

Dane Ortlund, Edwards and the Christian Life

God was in the room with us that night as we watched Bev groan in delight with each tiny bite.  She wasn’t pain free, she wasn’t healed, but she was joyous.  In just a few days she would be gone.  In her wake she left a trail of glorious blooms.  Joy-filled moments with friends who came to say goodbye.  Quiet, joy moments at 2:00am while pain medicine was administered, holding hands and remembering together.  Laughing as we struggled ineptly to changed bedsheets under her ravaged body.  We could do this because she loved the Lord more than anything.  We could find joy because we knew the Lord was waiting for her.

As for me?  Had the Lord taken her say five or ten years ago I would have been angry.  I would have felt so lost without her.  As I write this, yes, I’m crying from missing her but I’m not angry.  I’m so happy for her that she is free from pain.  She sits in the loving arms of God waiting for the last chapter to commence.

"Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them." Psalm 126:5-6

The question for you is do you believe Him?  Do you abide in Him?  Do you believe that our tears will turn to joy one day?  I know a number of Christians who have a very difficult time believing this.  The have a difficult time with the apostles and Jesus reminding us to find joy, yes, even in the trials.  Yet we are surrounded every day with brothers and sisters who do fully believe this truth.  

It’s not they that are a mystery – the ones who seem joyous in adversity.  It’s those of us who aren’t joyous that are the mystery.  We have the promises of God at our fingertips.  We have been lovingly provided for by the Father.  He has been with us in our trials.  He is with you right now in whatever you are going through.  He is pruning.  He is watering you.  Seek Him.  Abide in Him.  Ask Him to show you His will.  Thank Him for what you do have today, for there is always something for which to be thankful for, like a taco.  

 "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:10-11

“What the sun does to a valley as night gives way to day is what joy does to the Christian as the heart is filled with joy.  The Father is the sun itself, the Son is the brightness of the sun, and the Spirit is the warmth of the sun,”

Jonathan Edwards

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