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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Deeper Joy

I thought I understood joy... Until I heard the explanation of a lonely preacher on the banks of the Jordan...


He stands peacefully at the waters edge. No longer are the sandy banks covered with a multitude of people - eagerly pressing to hear his message. The Roman centurions are gone now, the Pharisees have long since turned their angry backs, and even the common people seem to have lost the interest they once had. Sure, there are the few that come - seeking him out.... but alas the masses have turned away.

He stands there in silence... Only to be interrupted by the burning hearts of disciples - jealous of another man's fame.

"But master... All men are going to Him to be baptized..."

Stinging words... biting at the heart of a warrior. Where now is your fame, your honor, your recognition? Where are the crowds that once flocked to your side? Why do they no longer come to hear your message of truth? Why have they forsaken you to follow after another man?

But here is no ordinary warrior - and from a heart filled with emotion echos the response -

"...this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:29

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I sit in silence.
Sure, it is one thing to be content when it seems all is lost, your influence is gone, and your honor has been transferred to another man... I probably would have called that victory.

But joy?

And then it was driven deeper yesterday - a man of God must know how to suffer well.

And that means joy in the deepest suffering. No, not just something that is tacked on... This is a joy that is found, completed, fulfilled - in the midst of the fire.

Only the men who know how to suffer well can truly help a suffering world. It is men like these that can take the hand of a suffering child, enter their pain, and lead them back to joy. It is men like these that start revolutions and change the world because suffering is no longer a risk, it's a pleasure. Here is where fear is replaced with courage and the coward is turned into the courageous.

Deeper victory is not merely contentment -
There must be the embracing of joy.

And no, it doesn't mean no more sorrow or pain...
This is joy in the midst of suffering... and love in the midst of pain....

Tell the world friend - the lowest place is where joy is found and love is birthed... And there is nothing greater than a man of suffering...

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And so we find our warrior cast in a dungeon, rejected, smitten, and beheaded - alone.

Yet of him it is said:

"For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Luke 7:28

4 comments:

  1. Mmmm... this is powerful. Have been mulling over this myself the last few weeks. Joy through pain. And really how can we have it any other way if we expect to be like Christ who for joy... endured the cross...

    I think suffering is imperative to joy.

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  2. Hmmm... Yes - imperative. Oh, to have the joy to endure the cross!

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  3. Powerful indeed- Thanks for posting

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  4. Paul, this post... I've read it multiple times... And it keeps blessing me, every time.
    And although you don't know me (i think you know my little brother), I wanted to thank you for sharing.
    These words, "...the lowest place is where joy is found...", they sear into my soul...
    True greatness... it's so rare-- but soo beautiful...
    Again, thank you, for sharing...

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