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20 July 2009

Contrasting Joy and Pain

I believe that the only way (or maybe just the best way) to experience great joy lies in our ability to contrast the current, joyful time with the darker, joyless times of our lives. If we don't have the perspective of dismal times, the realization of the good stuff is less pronounced.

In reading Psalm 66 this morning, I noted that the author was giddily focused on the joy that came from praising and serving God, but his perspective was then established in lines like this:

You have tested us, O God;
    you have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
    and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
    We went through fire and flood,
    but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

- Psalm 66:10-12 (NLT)

To me, this foreshadows Romans 8:28 and many other passages, particularly what Jesus said in Matthew 5 about being glad when people despise and lie about us because we're following Him (not because of our stupid mistakes). In the case of ancient Israel, their suffering often came at their own hands because of their stupidness, but in the end they found that God was standing there with great things waiting on them.

In honesty, do these promises lift your spirits when you're going through difficulty, or are they more of a "I'll believe it when it finally gets here" set of hopes?


keo said...

I like what you said about contrasting joy and pain. I think (my opinion) that those who say "I'll believe it when it finally gets here" confuse 'Joy' with 'Happiness'. Joy comes from the Hope in salvation - Jesus has already defeated death, the victory is ours when we believe - whereas Happiness is an emotion - example; when my dad passed I was very sad (not happy) but I had great Joy knowing he was now in the presence of the Lord.


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