by Pastor Bob Myers
Jesus promises to give us the “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61). How’s that working out for you? Sometimes I miss out on the exchange.
Do you feel the weight of heavy things resting on your shoulders? Maybe it’s something personal, maybe it’s just in the atmosphere, or maybe you’re carrying a burden for a friend.
We’re living in times where every ten days or so there is another senseless act of violence perpetrated on the innocent and vulnerable. It’s right to feel that and to lament that. It’s wrong to hear it rehearsed on the news multiple times a day. It’s right to pray for the world’s cohesion and compassion, unity and justice, but it’s wrong to make the brokenness a greater felt reality than our hope. It’s wrong to live in lamentation always.
The godly woman in Proverbs 31:25 is “clothed with strength and dignity” and she “smiles at the future.” Let’s play a Word-association game: I say “future” and how many of you say anything that relates to smiling?
I believe the example and the ministry of Jesus can help us when we feel like this. We sing scriptural praise to Christ with the lyrics, “You carried the weight of the world on your shoulders”. But He didn’t go around grim and weighed down and near the point of burn out.
He was urgent, but there was no wretched, tormented, urgency in him. He was acquainted with grief and suffering (Isaiah 53), but he was also a model of joy. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Yes, tears for lost people, sighs at rebellion, sometimes disappointment or anger at hypocrisy, but also an over-riding, healthy joy that was so much greater. That was and is His desire for His disciples – that our joy, like His, would be full.
Jesus took on our stress but was never stressed out. He knew the urgency of coming to terms with God, but He didn’t run after people who were running away. There was a resilient joy about the Son of God that is remarkable.
He could describe even human brokenness and hypocrisy in terms that must have sparked laughs. People who swallowed camels but strained out gnats. Hilarious imagery Jesus! People who had planks in their eyes taking specks of sawdust out of others. Good one Jesus, you’re cracking us up.
Hell, for all its reality was not what Jesus conveyed as His motivation. Rather, he was filled with a heavenly joy. I believe that is so instructive for us. We are not meant to go around glum and grim as the general default setting for our emotional ethos. Oh, the bible does allow that there are seasons that drain us of joy and lift. But the general default emotion for godly living is joy. We’re commanded to it, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”
Cast your cares on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Lay your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you. Lift your eyes above every human and created plain, because from the Lord comes our deliverance (Psalm 121).
We’re meant to live in light of the last chapter and the victorious ending. We’ve got the DVR ending and we know who wins.
That means we can see and savor great sunsets. It means we appreciate great aesthetics and art. It means we don’t take ourselves all that seriously. It means we are the most fun to live with of anyone around. It means there is a buoyancy to our countenance, a resilience to our good cheer. Jesus commanded us to live the way He did. With Jesus, the glass is always half full and being filled to overflowing.
In the name of the One who told us, “In this world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John16:33).