Battling for Joy (and Losing to Worry)

The_sinking_of_the_Steamship_Ville_du_Havre

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

I’m not very good at Joy (yes, that is a capital “J” as C.S. Lewis would have liked it).  Who knows how many articles, books, sermons, even my own devotional time has revealed the unshakable joy that is to be found in Christ.  I know it in my head, I can exegete it from the Scriptures, and I can exhort others to follow it, but I am so weak in my own application of this rich treasure.

In absolute transparent weakness, my world gets rocked by silly things.  They are first world problems.  A dryer breaks.  A faucet leaks.  A computer malfunctions and if it all happens on the same day I find myself asking what kind of menacing spiritual warfare lurks behind these catastrophes.  Certainly there must be fierce correspondence between my Wormwood and his Screwtape.

Unfortunately those letters probably more run in the vein of, “This is too easy.”  My joy is as fragile as an egg.

It is humbling to think seriously of the lyrics above as a measure for maintaining a heart of joy.  Horatio Spafford’s hymn reveals the gloriously beaten Rock of Joy that his life is affixed to.  How can one even begin to say, “It is well” after you lose your four daughters in a ship wreck?  I think it is suffering when my iPhone screen cracks.

The truth resides in the fact that Spafford wasn’t clinging to his joy.  That isn’t a human joy that can weather such a loss.  The wind and rain beat upon Spafford’s life.  Windows were broken.  The basement flooded.  Part of the roof was torn off.  But the house stood because it was built upon the Rock.  Other houses didn’t make it.

Such incredible suffering revealed what was truly there: Spafford’s deep roots in Jesus Christ.  Such a glorious hymn is a testimony of the fruit of the Spirit and the trueness of Christ’s words: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Now as I write the spiritual light bulb comes on…)

The all sovereign God allows suffering and evil according to his loving counsel so it might reveal what is really there.  For was it not the Father who allowed such a great evil to come upon the Son?  Did not the Son willingly walk into that storm?  Was he not lost beneath the waves like Jonah?  Yet, what was revealed by Christ’s suffering?  The most glorious truth in all of history.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

Christ has defeated sin and put death in the grave.  No matter what storm God may allow  in to my life, he will not let me walk through it alone nor will the storm be meaningless.  I have been purchased by his blood and he bore the storm of my sins on the cross.  It cost him everything and me nothing.  No suffering I face could ever measure up nor could it separate me from him.  This is where joy resides.

So I will keep singing: “It is well, with my soul.”  I’ll sing through the small sufferings and the big until it gets down deep in my heart.

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