1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Is it really possible?

I shared a scripture last week, Psalms 30:5 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I know it is far fetched to think in the midst of grief and tragedy that JOY, or what we think that word means will immediately come the very next day. If anything, it is nothing like that. However, Joy comes in the morning. But when does morning come?

Nothing I have encountered in life or the past couple weeks has shown me that if I go to bed sad or hurt it will be all better the next day when I wake up. Sometimes the morning brings with it a fresh perspective. Rest gives us patience or reserves we lacked the day before.

But it is not JOY, they are means of coping and processing. JOY is something deeper, something more profound. And it comes with more than a good night’s sleep.

 As a follower of Christ, and having his teachings and example readily available to me, I have discovered if anything the very next day seems harder then the first. But I am more experienced in the field of battle then I was the day prior. And because I choose to rely on God, I am more suited to continue the battle for the hope of JOY that He has promised WILL come.

Circumstances usually do not change overnight. Neither do our lives and hearts. We change over time. We see more over time. We strain our eyes to see in the dark until they burn. We want to give up, but we know that if we keep looking we might see something, anything. And then dawn comes, faintly at first, then with growing light. The chill in the air breaks, our eyes begin to make out what lies ahead. Scripture is filled with examples of people waiting for God to fulfill His promises and to bring His promised JOY.

God promised a son to Abraham. Abraham waited, and waited, and waited. During his waiting, he experienced much grief. Sarah deeply struggled to believe that God would indeed be true to His word. When would the joy pierce the darkness? David was promised the kingship. And then he found himself on the run from Saul. Would God ever break through the bleakness of his life and fulfill His promises?

Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Jesus Endured the Cross

This journey of waiting and enduring for the promise of “Joy in the morning” is made possible only through Jesus, who was well acquainted with grief. As it is written in Isaiah 53:3” He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” It was Jesus who paved the way for us as He followed His own journey. On that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He voiced His sorrow, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” He cried out to God for help saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Trusting in His Father’s will, the Book of Hebrews tells us that “for the JOY that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus personified the heart cries of His people at the cross. He calls us to cast all our burdens on Him. Because of Jesus and the gospel, we can come to the “throne of grace in confidence and find the help and grace in our time of need.”  We can come to Jesus with all our emotions and cares and know that he hears us, that he cares for us, that he is at work in us.

Finally the example. Luke 22:42-44 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus was in agony on this night, to the point of sweating what was like drops of blood falling to the ground. His grief was palatable, His agony was deep. Then in verse 66 it says “When day came.” So the promised JOY was not when the next morning broke. In fact the very next day was worse than the first. This is the day He would be mocked, tortured, and killed. But JOY did come. Not the first morning or even the morning after. But it did come!

Child of God, stay the course. Work through your grief. Wrestle and feel your sorrow all the while trusting in His promises. Because He will come through for you. Remember, God’s delay is NOT His denial. JOY will come in the morning!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church