Monday, July 3, 2017

I Have a Problem With Joy!

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain! (Habakkuk 3:17-19, MSG)
As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1: 11-12, MSG)

Summer holidays are nearly upon us here in the UK. Now is the time when the school term winds down; there are school trips, sports days, end of year services. And then of course term ends and the holidays are there stretching out in front – weeks of family time away from the routines, clubs, familiar activities, and support! Everyone around seems to be getting excited over holiday plans – meeting up with family or traveling, talking joyfully in anticipation of restful days at a slower pace. In contrast, I feel I’m bracing myself for the extra energy that I know I will need. I love time with family, love the opportunity to experience new things together, but I know it will not be restful!

How challenging I find these verses. The strength to endure I get completely, that resonates! But joy has often seemed elusive – out of reach for me. I have a talent for ‘the grim strength of gritting your teeth’ but I need the free gift of ‘the glory-strength God gives’ – a strength to endure that ‘spills over into joy’- Imagine that!

The source of joy for Habakkuk is the solid, tried, and tested rescuing faithfulness of God – his rock to stand on in every circumstance, easy and difficult. Habakkuk's joy is not feelings of fun and thankfulness that come from happy circumstances, but a deep and practiced leaning into God who saves; God who cares; God who is able. As Paul puts it, a joy that bubbles up despite his circumstances when you have a Father who is constant support and strength around you and within you. This joy flows from a different perspective, a perspective found standing at the beginning of the holidays knowing I’m not alone and I’m not where I am by chance… it is a perspective shaped by a relationship with the faithful Father.

Father, draw me in close. Teach me how to receive your gift of glory-strength. Open my eyes again to the ‘bright and beautiful’ you have put in my path today. Let me experience that bubbling up of joy as I recognize again that you are forever faithful to me. Amen



  2. Wonderful encouragement. I'm with you in this struggle and my prayer request is the same.