Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Oh Joy ... Where are You?

Funny how when you say your going to work on something, you find yourself at odds with it at every turn. Still plugging along with choosing joy over here ... trying to figure out what that looks like in the life of a believer and more specifically, in my life. However, in the last week, I have felt under the pile. One of our sweetest members of our church had heart surgery last week and had unexpected struggles to regain consciousness. Another sweet family lost a father/grandfather. One of my best friends from college flew to be with her family as her mother passed away after a very brief struggle with cancer. And yet another precious girl (recently married) shared some hard, hard struggles in her marriage and I am aching for her.

Aaaah.

And yet, in the midst of life, we are promised joy. That His joy will be our strength. To me that's one of those things that I get the faintest glimmer of when I squint my eyes up really tight and stare at one spot for a long time ... but any movement and I lose my focus on what that really means. (Does that make sense?) :)

The women's study that I attend has started a year long walk through the book of Isaiah. Heady stuff, my friends. I have been plugging along, slowly and steadily, and in my lesson this week I learned something ... one of the themes of Isaiah is JOY. While much of the book is Isaiah's prophecy of the coming judgment of Judah and the nation of Israel, he also promises them a coming Messiah and, oh, the joy of that thought!

The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
Isaiah 9.2-3

The Bible Knowledge Commentary points out that "the light will increase their joy like the joy at harvesttime or the joy of winning a battle and dividing the plunder. 'Joy' is another emphasis of Isaiah’s, mentioned more than two dozen times in the book. This will be a supernatural work of God much like the nation’s deliverance when Gideon defeated Midian. It will be like taking a burden off one’s back."

Did you see what I see? It is a supernatural work of God. What if this theme or goal that I've chosen is nothing that *I* can attain, but only by striving onward toward Christ (like a soldier following his general to battle) can I find His joy? He will increase their gladness ... not them. It's not something that I can conjure from within myself. It is borne out of a life cultivated by Christ. One that is actively striving after Him, pursing Him, reading of Him, talking to Him. Then HE will provide and sustain me with joy.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to study Isaiah! I've been drawn to chapter 49 for the last couple of weeks. It ties to the verse you quoted. God tells his Servant that He will make him a great light for all to see (my paraphrase). Vs. 3 is my memory verse right now for Beth's Memory challenge. "He said to Me, 'You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will show My glory." (NASB) It can also be translated "glorify myself." I realize this isn't to me directly but the principle is. God will glorify himself in his people. What a wonderful thought! That even though I mess up all the time He will still gain glory through me. I'll stop now before I really start preaching in your comments. :)

    Are you using a bought study guide, home made or just taking it chapter by chapter?

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