Somehow, I knew it. I knew the lesson from the Joy Day would be something completely unexpected, and it was.
At 4 p.m. on the Joy Day, two disturbing things happened:
- I opened a folder on my computer called “Taxes 2013: To Do”, and my stomach literally lurched.
- By chance, I viewed a news story, with a video, that was so unsettling that it left me shaking, tearful and gasping.
The story depicted example after example of decent, ordinary people suffering tragically, unnecessarily and unjustly at the hands of powerful forces. It told of a congresswoman losing her seat and possibly her life for speaking out against the injustice. I had to walk away from the screen to get myself together. That story probably represented one of my worst fears.
But it’s a joy day, Lord…
I didn’t understand, and I was gripped by sorrow and fear. So, I went back to the Joy Day verses that God lovingly, patiently brought before my eyes that morning. And I read them over and over, saying them to myself, as I went about my tasks:
1. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22)
2. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:24)
3. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
4. 11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
Friends, I don’t have the Joy Day lesson all sorted out yet, and maybe I never will, but here’s what I have so far:
- I overlooked one little phrase in my excitement over the joy verses: “So also you have sorrow now…”
- We live in a broken, fallen world.
- We are not promised comfort and ease.
- In fact, we are promised the opposite.
- Jesus has overcome the world, no matter how things look in the here and now.
- We will see Him again, and when we do, our hearts will rejoice, and no one will be able to take that joy away from us.
- That joy will be so complete, we will not want to ask anything at all of Him.
- In His presence is fullness of joy, and as Christians, we can access that at any time.
- Part of my upset was my own problem of not wanting to be called to fight such a fight, not wanting to go through such a thing, and not wanting to suffer.
- If I am not willing to suffer if necessary, I am not worthy of being called His child.
- He suffered. I am not greater than He is.
- He is enough, and He’s got this, too.
And most importantly (thank you, Rene’), it’s a pretty cool, tender thing that God knew what I would face at 4 p.m., so He equipped me in advance with four verses to give me comfort and truth. The enemy knew my worst fears, and he tried to use them against me. But I was armed and protected. How amazing is that?
By 6 p.m., I was joyful again. A past version of me would have been devastated for days. Thank you, Lord.
It was a pretty good Joy Day after all.
Note: All scriptures are from the English Standard Version (ESV), and have my emphasis added.