Friday, August 17, 2012

What Joy looks like through tears

Read: Job 1:13-22, Psalm 142

Today was hard.  I had to let go of something that has been a source of deep and abiding joy for me.  And yes, I waited until the last possible moment; hoping for the hail Mary pass that didn’t come.   Instead, I’m left praying it’s not a permanent release.  Yet if it is, God is still sovereign.  This morning also brought with it news that has the ability to stifle hope.  Again.  And the Officer and I, together, are still smack-in-the-middle of a time of decided trial which has been marked with a series of false peaks and mirages; this wilderness has consumed a quarter of our year, and still we have no respite in sight.  Another beloved of my heart has had news of the life-altering flavor; and I can’t but hurt with them.           
So a resolution to joy may seem forced.  But joy isn’t a painted on smile and an “everything’s peachy-keen” attitude.  Joy might be recognition of who attends your situation; the acknowledgement of the One from whom your strength, on the weariest, days comes.    

In the first chapter of Job and Psalm 142, we find two men encountering different varieties of the pain a fallen world can provide.  Both Job and David knew what to do in times of hurt; times of grotto dwelling and ash sitting.  Each first recognized the hurt they felt, and then proclaimed God sovereign over his circumstance.
Within the space of four verses, Job loses his entire fortune, all of his servants, and each one of his children.  We could understand how Job could have lost every shred of joy.  And we do see Job react to the news in an emotionally appropriate way: he tore his clothes and shaved his head in mourning.  Yet immediately afterward, he fell to the ground

…and worshiped.
We are told that in his proclamation that “naked [he] came from [his] mother’s womb; and naked will [he] depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised,” Job “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”[1]  Job recognized the sovereignty of God, in spite of and even through his circumstances.  And so while he was in full mourning (and appropriately so), Job demonstrated what scriptural joy in crappy situations looks like.

David is known for crying out to God in every situation, good or bad.  In Psalm 142, he cries out to God for mercy and rescue.    He proclaims an expectation that God will be good to him.  He says that the Lord is his refuge, even when rescue is in the future tense.  Speaking thus, David is able to decry his circumstance and still claim God as sovereign over even the situations (and people) that have driven David into hiding, into literally skulking about in a cave, fearing for his life and the as-yet-to-be-made-real promises of Almighty God.  
Thus, I submit that joy is neither circumstantial, nor does it mean faking happiness.  Joy allows for truth in our emotions.  We can cry, we can mourn, we can say that our situation sucks.  So long as, at the end of the day, we land firmly on the truth that God is God.  And He is sovereign over our stuff, our circumstances; and He is deserving of our worship.  Even if all we can say is, “You are God.”

On days like Job’s or David’s, even my today, joy looks like breathing.   In and out.  In and out.   

And worship can simply mean saying, “God reigns.” 

[1] Job 1:21-22

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