Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Times of Joy

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Ps 4:7

For some reason, when I started my run this morning my heart was as light as spring. Perhaps it was because the summer heat had finally lifted, or that my kids and spouse were okay for the moment, or that my financial budget was actually balanced or that I had no failing or angry patients--- an incredibly empty crisis bucket. I knew that moments like this are an aberration, that my joys will soon enough be interrupted by “normal” life and that all the pressures will soon return. But, for the moment, with eyes wide open, I choose to settle in the joy that God has given me and praise Him for the gift.

When we are hurting in life, we seek God in our pain and we find Him walking beside us with comfort, purpose, peace and even joy. As doctors, as humans, and as dreamers, with so many to care for and to love, we often live with pain. We spend much of our lives asking God to heal our broken dreams, change our twisted character, shelter those we love or bring joy into our pain---and He comes through.

But God also brings moments of joy to us when things are going well. Sometimes He just hands us a gift, an understanding that all is okay and our dreams can be realized. Sometimes life is good and we know it.

We can make two great mistakes when handed these gifts of joy.

One mistake is that we take such times in life and claim them for our own---all is good so God can take a break and let me ride this wave alone. We’re 40 points ahead in the fourth quarter so God can set Himself on the bench and let me run the plays.

Instead of asking God to fill our times of joy with His purpose and His power for His glory, we take ownership and use them for ourselves. What a waste.

A second mistake would be to blunt our moments of joy with the sadness of its transient nature. Sometimes we water down our joy because we look ahead and realize that life will soon be heavy again. We take the gift that God has given us and place it still wrapped on the shelf because we know it cannot last. What a missed opportunity.

God blesses us with times of joy during our life journeys to be used as C S Lewis described, “pleasant inns along the way”. These are times to be re-energized, to set down our load, to praise the Giver and surrender to His love as we dance in the moment. Hard times will certainly come again; but we can face them confidently, remembering our moments of joy, knowing that “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5). As my pastor often says, “The worst thing that happens to us will never be the last thing that happens to us.” Jesus and Joy is the last thing that will happen to us.

Dear Father,

Thank you for times of joy that burst into our lives and renew our spirits for the task You have set before us. Let us not grasp them as our own but hand them back to you for Your purpose.


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