Life can be awfully serious, can’t it? There are tragedies, disappointments and trials. If you’re not facing that now, you will be soon enough. The Bible is stock full of this assessment on the world.
Hmmm, now there’s a downer of a blog topic. But, stick with me. It gets better.
God does not gloss over pain. In fact, he tells us not to be surprised at it. Yet the psalmist says: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 15:11). Fullness of joy? Pleasures forevermore? Was this guy living in the real world?
Does this sentiment ignore the realities of life? Or was he just a Polly-Anna? My experience of the Bible is that it’s anything but ignorant or unrealistic. But it is a book of paradoxes. The last shall be first. The meek shall inherit the earth. And “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4). If that isn’t a paradox, what is? But it doesn’t match up with the sentiment of the world where we’re told to watch out for number one and the most fit will survive.
Wait. The psalmist doesn’t say his joy comes from lack of pain, having lots of stuff or winning. His joy isn’t centered on his children, his job, his spouse or his 401k. He says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” That’s not quite the kind of joy the world recommends to us, but it certainly gives us a clue where to find real joy.
Years ago, I heard Pastor John Piper comment that Americans have been living in “Disneyland,” meaning the affluent abundance that has marked the past several generations is not “normal.” In the history of the world, this much outpouring of wealth and relative ease in daily living is just deceptive and yet we’ve come to not only accept it, but expect it. In this short clip, he talks about Americans being so “stuffed” with everything else that we have no room for God.
Lord, help us not only recognize, but overcome in this battle. I don’t want to be so consumed with the busyness of daily life that the best things fall through my fingers.
For some reason this all came to my mind as I enjoyed a photo of my nieces. It was a rainy, dreary day by most standards, but the giggles seemed to pour out of them. The laughter appeared paradoxical in the midst of the gloom.
I get the impression that the only way to live life like this is to make room for it. Not fill every waking moment with activity, so there’s room to be in his presence.
I don’t think God is asking us to stuff our pain or be unaware of the difficulties in life, but I do think there is a way to find joy in the midst of the hardness of life.
I don’t know what you may be going through right now. In the eyes of the world, it may seem ridiculous to expect or look for joy where you’re at. And giggling may be the last thing you feel like doing. I’ve been there. But my prayer is for God to point the way through this rainy season for you, miraculously uplifting you in joy that goes beyond the circumstances.