Monday, November 9, 2009

turning on joy

It would be nice if you could turn on joy with the flick of a switch, wouldn't it? Imagine waking in the morning, feeling discouraged, and deciding to rejoice in God. Bing! The light goes on and so does joy.

We all know it's not that simple. We can fight tooth and nail for joy, and it can still be beyond us. That's because joy is God's gift. But how do you fight for something which is a gift? ...

My favourite quote in John Piper's When I Don't Desire God, which has comforted me innumerable times, and reminded me to wait for God and keep fighting when joy seems a million miles away, is this:

We are like farmers. They plow the field and plant the seed and cut away weeds and scare away crows, but they do not make the crop grow. God does. He sends rain and sunshine and brings to maturity the hidden life of the seed. ... We must learn to wait for the Lord. ... In obedience to God's Word we should fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God's to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father's timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we work patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (Jn 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It is a gift. (pp.42-43) ...

Knowing this has helped me a lot over the years. I try to be disciplined in the fight for joy: to battle my emotions, to read God's word and pray, to spend time with his people, to walk in his good world. But when joy proves elusive - as it often does! - I've learned to wait. I cry out to God, I pray, and I wait for God to restore joy (Ps 51:20) in his own timing and in his own way. This isn't easy, but it reminds me that God is sovereign and trustworthy: he knows what is best for me.

This is a slightly edited excerpt from today's post at EQUIP book club - to read the rest, click here.

image is from Jaako at flickr


Susie said...

Jean just wanted you to know that this was spot on for me today! Many thanks, Suz x

Jean said...

I'm so glad, Suz! It helps me (the quote, not the post, that is!) over and over again too.