Monday, April 9, 2018

Lessons In Joy by Teresa Beem

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, 
the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, 
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12: 2

Scripture tells us that there is a time and season for everything, Eccl. 3:1. And now is the time and season for joy!

This is the Easter Season and for the next few weeks we are not to be downhearted but look up and experience the rich mercy of God.

We just spent forty days in Lent pondering our mortality. We began by putting ashes on our foreheads to remind ourselves that we will one day cast off this mortal flesh and we will stand before our Lord for our final judgement. We fasted and prayed and confessed our sins. The Bride, God's Church, gives us this Lenten season that we may experience what it means to be mortal. We had to courageously examine our lives so that we renounce the dark grip of death Satan has on us. We had to break free from the enslavement of sin the Devil has so deceived us into loving! We were taken by the Church Triumphant through the process of dying to sin and being reconciled to our fellow man and to God.

For God teaches us that it is only through Lent we can experience the eternal bliss of eternity with God and the supernatural joy of Easter tide. 

A Wonderful and Strange Season

I know that most of us are facing real sufferings right now. How can we just turn off our worries, turn off our hard circumstances, turn off our loneliness and fear and troubles? How can we do that Lord? How can you even ask us to do something utterly impossible?

What a strange thing for God to command that His people cultivate joy this season! Because God asks of us the impossible. But He also promises that all things through Christ Jesus are possible. He has provided a way of Joy, in fact a season of Joy that He is calling us to enter in faith. 

Jesus knows what He is asking of His people, for even through the agonies of the Garden of Gethsemane when He cried out to God to let this Cross pass from Him, when He sweat blood and was beaten to the point of death by barbaric soldiers, when he was mocked and betrayed then murdered on a Cross by the very humans He created—through all that Jesus said that He felt Joy. 
For the joy set before Him He endured the cross... 
While God, at times, surprises us with joy, if you find you are without joy, you can ask God for it. The normal way to joy is to ask. And if in this season of Easter, you want the supernatural gift of peace and joy that will rise above all the sufferings and pain and heartache we experience on earth, pray for it. God desires that we ask and He will supply abundantly. 

And if you ask and do not receive it, perhaps it is because you are clinging to some selfishness or pride, some addiction or sin that you don't want to let go of, or you feel you cannot let go of. There is a reason there is forty days of Lent before the season of Joy. It is because God knows that the grace of joy cannot be received without human hearts being reconciled with others and with God. Sin holds us down. It must be released. 

And some sorrows are beyond our control. There is such suffering on earth. But despair is not inevitable. This is the season to let fear, anxiety and pain go. Give it to our gracious Lord.

Like Christ, we too can experience joy no matter how terrible our circumstances. St. Paul described this:
…in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. 2 Cor. 7:4
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Cor. 8: 2
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. I Thess. 1: 6

Joy is not something we can experience without God's grace. Joy is not a mortal experience that we can whip up with food, alcohol, drugs or entertainment. Joy cannot be mustered up with positive thinking or by inspirational speakers. Because joy is not a feeling. It is not an experience of pleasure. Joy is beyond that. Joy is when God elevates you so far above the darkness of this earth that you can glimpse heaven.

Lent can be a struggle because we 
contemplate the end of our own earthly, physical story, so that our eternal story may be changed!  During Lent our eyes are on the horizon but we make a sudden change at Easter and our eyes turn to the sky and we look vertically making a Cross with those two seasons! 

Lent makes possible Easter's divine ending because we have been reconciled to God through Christ's Cross and for those who accept His gift, we are told to look up and see that it is a very, very happy ending. The morality of Lent bursts forth in the immortality of the Cross at Easter. 

God tells us that we are in the season of Easter… a season of supernatural joy. God asks us to allow Him to fill us with this. I pray that each one of us reaches out for this joy and be filled. 

Jesus Christ is risen to day Hallelujah!! 

No comments: