Monday, 14 January 2008

Quote from Life At Its Best - 3: on Joy

'Joy' has been a strange word to me for a while, at least a few months. I think I'd been suffering from (mild) depression.

The cause and triggers I won't talk about here, but it has been definitely one of the most difficult periods in my life. I do believe there is a divine reason (or two) for this dry season in my life, that is unfortunately beyond my understanding, but it might be that I am finally starting to see some light just over the past few days.

I've posted that I had started reading 'Life At Its Best' again. Surprisingly, when I picked up my book and opened to the page where I left it months before, it was just at the beginning of the chapter called, guess what, 'Joy'. I was momentarily intrigued at the coincidence (no I don't believe in such thing for my God is sovereign) providence of God, and thanked Him.

I do not think that this period is fully over quite yet, even though reading that chapter on Joy was helpful. Nevertheless, I'd like to share this quote from the chapter which was encouraging to me and hopefully will be so for you as well in the time of 'a dry season'.

A common but futile strategy for achieving joy is trying to eliminate things that hurt: get rid of pain by numbing the nerve ends, get rid of insecurity by eliminating risks, get rid of disappointments by depersonalizing your relationships. And then try to lighten the boredom of such a life by buying joy in the form of vacations and entertainment. There isn't a hint of that in Psalm 126.
Laughter is a result of living in the midst of God's great works('when the Lord restores... our mouth was filled with laughter'). Enjoyment is not an escape from boredom but a plunge by faith into God's work ('he that goes forth weeping bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him'). There is plenty of suffering on both sides, past and future. The joy comes because God knows how to wipe away tears, and , in his resurrection work, create the smile of new life. Joy is what God gives, not what we work up. Laughter is the delight that things are working together for good to them that love God, not the giggles that betray the nervousness of a precarious defence system. The joy that develops in the Christian way of discipleship is an overflow of spirits that comes from feeling good not about yourself but about God. We find that his ways are dependable, his promises sure.
-- p86-87 Life At Its Best

I guess the reason why I am finding things hard and joy so foreign is because that last line, 'We find that his ways are dependable, his promises sure' is a difficult confession to make for me these days.

Oh, God, have mercy and grant me to see Your works and have faith in You.

No comments: