READ: Psalm 30, Isaiah 49-51, Matthew 2, Acts 9 


“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning… You have turned my morning into dancing” (Psalm 30:5, 11). When the wise men saw the star stop over Jesus, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy and fell down and worshipped (Matt. 2:10-11). Joy comes from being where Jesus is and from our subsequent worship. We experience Jesus, we worship, we joy. Jesus tends to be most clearly revealed in difficult circumstances. In trial, all that is false is burned up, leaving only what cannot be destroyed. The longer the trial, the more that is temporary is removed until ultimately only Jesus remains. It should not surprise us then (because difficulty makes Jesus real to us) that joy comes in the mourning.

The devil is an irritable fellow and joy is one of the things that frustrates him. His ongoing resentment of Jesus is fueled by the joys of Jesus and His people. Evil responds to great joy with great wrath–every male toddler in Bethlehem viciously killed, and mothers of Ramah weep, lament, and wail unable to be comforted. Because joy is so precious to the saints and so resisted by the devil, we should not take it for granted nor think that joy is automatic. Joy is something to fight for. Joy is something to both choose and receive. Joy and woe are woven fine and we must be deliberate in latching hold of the joy when it is often proximate to sorrow. We WILL rejoice in God our Savior (Luke 1:47), even when we know our souls were (or will be) pierced. We rejoice by faith. We rejoice despite sorrow, not because we are immune to suffering.

When we choose joy, when we refuse to let the devil steal our joy, Jesus turns our mourning into dancing. Faith never denies facts, so rejoicing in trial never means we live idealistically or in denial. There are chains, there are captives, but we rejoice in the presence of Jesus made real through difficulty. Joy is the advance messenger which heralds deliverance. When God’s people rejoice (on a broken earth), they anticipate the ultimate fulfillment when “therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy, shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. And sorrow and morning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).

The presence of Jesus unleashes joy. Sometimes joy is most keenly felt when all insulators are swept away by trial, difficulty, and suffering. When pain has rendered meaningless all our supports, comforts, and even our friends, there is one who we cannot dismiss. Jesus stands faithful in the rubble of our ruined lives. He alone can bear great wounds to His body and soul and retain a twinkle in His eye without any measure of twistedness. In those seasons, let us look into His sparkling eyes and choose His joy. Let joy come in the mourning.

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