The Day I Asked For Joy

Oct 7, 2016 2177

Me in younger days, with my mother, father, and daughter Rebecca.

Me (L) in younger days, with my mother, father, and daughter Rebecca.

My mother passed away last week. She was 83. There comes a time in most people’s lives when both of their parents have gone, and no matter what other family or friends you may have, it comes with a sense of being cast adrift in the world.

So I took a day off and went “fishing.” Well, it’s the same as when I go “walking.” It’s just an excuse to pray.

I sat on a rock overlooking the sea, speaking to God. I wanted to be reminded of who I was, to ground myself in Christ again. I went to receive a blessing and so I said to God, “I’m not leaving until you bless me.” He said to me, “What do you want?” I thought about that for a while; after all, that’s a very important question. And then I replied, “I want the gift of joy.”

I tend to be overly anxious about things, and to stress and be negative at times. All my life I have struggled against this, and so I asked for the gift of joy. After all, it’s one of the gifts of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). And right at that moment, I needed some joy.

I sat on that rock for hours sensing God’s presence, but somehow something was missing. Perhaps I was waiting to be blown away by joy, but that didn’t happen. At one point I got the impression: “Read Luke 24:11.” It wasn’t what I expected so I strangely didn’t pay much attention. I spoke to God almost continuously for hours, but what I was seeking for seemed elusive.

Eventually I decided to move back from the shore, and sit under a tree. As I reflected on what I had experienced in the last few hours, I remembered Luke 24:11, and so I looked it up. The context is that the women have just run back from the empty tomb, having been assured by the angels there that Christ had risen. When they told the disciples, this is what happened:

But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense (Luke 24:11).

I must confess that the thought passed through my mind that this verse was random nonsense as well. However I was impressed to consider it carefully. As I thought about it, I remembered that one of the key themes of the gospel of Luke is all about joy.

In fact, the whole 24th chapter of Luke is full of joy. There is the excited joy of the women when they discover that Jesus is risen, the wondering joy of Peter when he finds the empty tomb, the uncontainable joy of the two disciples from Emmaus who walk with the risen Lord – and then there are the disciples themselves.

When Jesus shows the disciples in the upper room his wounded hands and feet, they still don’t believe, simply because they dare not think that such joy could even be possible. But then, when Jesus opened their minds so that they understood the Scriptures (v.45), then they believed. Then, and only then, we are told, they were filled with “great joy” (v.52).

Joy comes only when we believe. The Lord was telling me that if I want more joy, then I must believe more.

The truth is that Luke 24 is filled with countless reasons for joy:

1) Jesus has not left us alone. He has given us his Spirit and his angels to always be with us (vv.4,49);

2) He has given us the Scriptures, the whole of which point us to who he is, and to his character of constant love and compassion (v.27,45).

3) The risen Lord himself comes to us in our sadness, and he touches us, eats with us, and speaks with us as a friend (vv.36–44), and;

4) He offers us repentance for the forgiveness of sins through his death, and he calls us to preach his name and his salvation to all nations (vv.47–48).

All of these are wonderful reasons for joy.

But… most of all, he is risen! HE IS RISEN!

That’s why, in Luke 23, Jesus is the one who is suffering and having things done to him, but in Luke 24, it is Jesus who is doing all the doing! He is LORD!

And so, I received my blessing.

My God assured me that I will see my mother again. He reminded me of who I am and why I am. And he told me something else…

Joy is not something that you can hold in your hand, or measure, or and that has an end. Joy is something we grow into through eternity. And the more joyful that we want to be, the more believing we must do.

As I left that place, a prayer from the gospels came to my mind, and through tears of joy I shaped it into my own:

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

– Eliezer Gonzalez

Ruby Schott

Oct 8, 2016

Thank you for sharing your experience Eliezer. It helped me to put my own grieving into perspective.

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