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The Joy Thief

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Sunrise over Lake Lanier(photo by author)

One of the inevitable facts of life is that at some point you will find yourself in a position of feeling…well, bleh. I have no other words to sum up just what I mean. Say the word out loud, BLEH. Say it loud. There is meaning in that, the louder you say it the more bleh you will get. Its that sick feeling that something is just completely wrong and you cannot put your finger on it. Its just a nasty feeling that can only be summed up with a sound. Bleh! This week I found myself feeling that way. It has been a very eventful and tragic week since last Thursday. It seemed that for several days the world simply ceased to function properly in the small town where I serve. Near death experiences by some, death in other cases, misunderstanding, ignorance, closed mindedness, and just an overall sense of losing focus just fell upon us. And so I felt bleh. I’m sure others had a much more profound sense of something else deeper and more life changing. The feeling left me staggered, confused, empty almost. Like I had no direction in which to travel. I stared at the screen with no thoughts. I listened to music with deaf ears. I made plans without really knowing what was happening. It was as if I had walked too close to a speaker at a rock concert. I could feel nothing but a steady rumble of something other worldly and strikingly frightening, yet nothing was truly wrong.
There was a time in my life when I would spend a great deal of time deer hunting. I would wake up early in the morning ( who are we kidding if its dark, its night). I would go deep into the woods climb a tree in the inky blackness, and sit. The forest is silent when there is no light. Your ears become attuned to every little sound in the brush, yet there is nothing. Only the wind whispers of something. The animals are all asleep, bedded down, waiting for something. The longer you sit, the more you become aware of the still silence. Then it happens. In the east the black begins to become grey. Stars that were once the only pin pricks of light in the dark curtain of night fade. Sound returns to the world. Birds chirp softly, small rodents stir in the leaves. The dreams carried by the wind become the sound of life waking. And as the rest of the sky begins to fall in love with the light you begin to feel like life is coming back to you.
Sunrise is a wonderful thing. It is life returning to the world. Certainly there is life in the city at night. The lights never go out. Yet the light of the sun is simply different. It is far grander than anything electricity could create.
David, my favorite mistake make in the Bible, had an issue. He had caused some serious problems in his life. He had sinned greatly with infidelity, murder, and lies. He broke three commandments in one situation. Yet, he was convicted, he was moved, and he repented and was restored through forgiveness. He penned these words, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12). And his prayer was answered.
It is amazing to me that these words are penned by David in his despair, because they speak beyond the times when we are being convicted. The world, and the devil, will do whatever can be done to steal your joy. God, in His infinite and wonderful wisdom does not stop such things from happening. Tragedy comes, troubles come, trials come. Not because God is mean, or angry with you personally. These things happen because they must. There is a purpose behind them. Also, if they did not come, then why would we feel the need to rely on God? Why would the Bible speak of a NEW Heaven and NEW Earth? The world is broken. And thus it will seek to break you. It will try to convince you that the black night is all that exists. It is a thief that revels in taking your joy from you. And yet, the sun rises.
The sunrise declares God’s power, God’s love, God’s care. Jesus spoke about the troubles of the world. The apostle John recounts His words in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble, but take comfort, I have overcome the world.” The sunrise declares that. Spring declares that. The cross declares that. Do not allow thieves convince you that they have taken from you that which cannot be taken. Salvation cannot be stolen. Be restored to joy. Step into the sun. Bask in the glow of a risen Savior.

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