Joy Unspeakable


    "God whispers in our pleasure and shouts in our pain."  C.S. Lewis   "I will praise Him in the pain, though the mystery remain."  Jennifer Rothschild  There are so many things we seem unable to understand in a walk with Him.  Pain is one, and joy is another.  We don't understand why the first is in our life, and even more, why He would allow it.  Rarely do we see Him in it, and even more rarely do we feel we can have any joy, His joy, in the midst of it.  We know that we're to be overcomers, that we have "victory in Jesus," but we don't feel like overcomers, and our lives don't look to be victorious.  The only thing that seems real is the pain.  The pain from the death of a loved one, the break-up of a marriage, the on-going sickness of a mate or child.  There are the daily disappointments of life, both large and small, and all the frustrations that go with them.  There is the appearance of failure, in our relationships, our jobs, our ministries.  Pain, be it excruciating or just a dull presence, is there, and seeks to steal all joy from us.  Maybe it has stolen all joy from us.  Yet we read, hear, that we are to "rejoice always."  How?  How may we live in His joy in such painful and hard places?
     I came across something Watchman Nee wrote that I think speaks deeply into this.  He said that when he first came to Christ, it was his belief that to be a Christian was to walk through life with a constant smile upon his face, to never shed a tear, or feel even the slightest fear.  To do so meant he was not victorious, that his relationship with the Father was flawed.  In response to those "ideas" he wrote, "But the Christian life I soon learned is very different. It is a paradox of power in weakness, joy amid pain, faith triumphing in the presence of doubt.  When the Christian is strongest in the Lord, he is most conscious of inability;  when he is most courageous, he may be profoundly aware of fear within, and when he is most joyful, a sense of distress readily breaks upon him again.  It is only the 'exceeding greatness of the power' that lifts him on high"  There lies the key I think.  It is choosing, moment by moment if needs be, to live in the "exceeding greatness" of His power, of His life.  We live in a fallen world, and pain, loss, sorrow, are all very real.  The glory is that the joy of His Presence is even more real.  Writer Margaret Feinberg spoke of how the pain of her treatments for breast cancer were so intense as to drive her to her knees at times, yet that in those times, she received the fullness of His power and life, and so, His joy.  The pain was real. He was more real.
     Jennifer Rothschild lost her eyesight at age 14.  The Father never told her why, but He also never stopped speaking into and moving in and through her life.  In the mystery of "Why?" she could and did praise Him.  In her loss, she received the fullness of His joy.  C.S. Lewis who wrote the classic, "A Grief Observed," knew and experienced that though the pain of loss spoke so loudly, that the comforting voice of the Father in Christ spoke even louder. And with that voice, came joy.  Not an escape from the circumstances, not some kind of euphoria, but the all consuming joy and sense of His Presence in the midst of it.  This was the "all joy" of His Word.
    Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4, "But this precious treasure - this light and power that now shine within us - is held in perishable containers - that is, our weak bodies.....Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen"  We do feel the pain of life, but if we will yield to Him in its midst, we will also experience the wonder of His glory, and "joy unspeakable."  In our time of pain, whether it is upon us now, or yet to come, may we enter in the unspeakable joy of the Lord in its midst.  A joy greater than all our pain.

Pastor O   
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   May 2019   
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