27 February 2012

joy set before me

Long Road in MontanaLast winter, I struggled with depression; it was like walking in the dark twenty-four hours a day. This winter, the darkness comes and goes. It's better. I'm grateful.

Still, though, some days I don't want to get out of bed. I think: Everything goes wrong, the hours feel empty, I'm sad and lonely. Why bother getting up?

One recent morning I had flopped on the couch, discouraged and bent on wallowing. Sad again, for no apparent reason. What's the point of fighting this? Nothing worth doing. I should just go back to sleep. Oh, how I wish I could skip today. This week. My life. 

Then I thought about Jesus.

Each morning of his life, He woke up and decided to keep going. Every single morning he "set his face like flint," when He could just as easily have shut his eyes and thought: I don't want to get out of bed. I can't handle another day in this broken world, can't deal with these men and women sinning against me. Everything goes wrong. The hours feel empty. I'm sad and lonely. Why bother getting up? I wish I could skip today. This week. My life.

He, the Creator and King of the universe, had descended an unfathomable distance to Earth. He had been made small, weak, vulnerable. People laughed at him, looked down on him, ran him out of town. Even his disciples had little faith and misinterpreted his teachings, more concerned with squabbling over seats in the Kingdom than with spreading good news. He was about to be abandoned by His Father and slain by rebels.

Jesus had every reason to rage and to despair. Why did He get up in the morning?

Hebrews 12 explains. "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." The joy that was set before Him-- the approval of God the Father, the glory given to His children, the delight and peace found in His presence. It sufficed to propel Jesus through each long day on this Earth, running with endurance, no matter how hard.

That hope was enough to overcome every temptation to despair.

There is joy set before me, too. 

I can have it today: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice . . . The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4).

And I can set my hope on it for the future: "According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice . . . Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1).

 "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself," Hebrews continues, "so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."

I'll consider. And I'll get up.

Still, My Soul, Be Still by Keith & Kristyn Getty on Grooveshark 

{image credit: Stuck in Customs}

1 comment:

  1. I love this piece, daddus

    From an old English parsonage down by the sea
    There came in the twilight a message to me;
    It’s quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
    Hath, it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
    And on through the hours the quiet words ring
    Like a low inspiration: “DOE THE NEXTE THYNGE.”

    Many a questioning, many a fear,
    Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
    Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
    Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
    Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
    Trust them with Jesus, doe the nexte thynge.

    Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
    Do it reliantly, casting all care;
    Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
    Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
    Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
    Leave all resulting, doe the nexte thynge.

    Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
    Working or suffering, be they demeanor;
    In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
    The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
    Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
    Then, as he beckons thee, doe the nexte thynge