Our Lenten Devotion for Tuesday, April 5, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22 NIV
“Joy and Sorrow”
“Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.”
(from Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 2Henri)
Some people seek a feel-good faith that will help them avoid distress and pain and sorrow. Others adopt one of our society’s current, distorted values: “You should do whatever will make you happy.” Our new life in Christ will ultimately bring us joy and peace beyond measure, when we see our Savior “face to face” (Corinthians 13:12) But in the meantime, we will inevitably suffer hurt and rejection as we stand up for Christ and work for what is good and right and true in the sight of God. We will encounter pain and sorrow as we confront the corrupt values of our society and work for the good of those whom Jesus calls, “the least of these who are members of my family” (Matthew 25:40). But yet we can “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) because the joy of the Lord is hidden in pain and sorrow. And no one can rob us of the joy we find in him.
Our emotions -- especially the strong emotions – can be doors opening into God’s heart reaching out to embrace us. So indeed, joy and grief are both gracious gifts from God, and they help us to connect with each other and with God.
Victorious Lord, grant us joy in the midst of our earthly struggles, until that day we will share in your perfect joy and peace forever. Amen.