In the last couple of posts, I have sought to bring encouragement to those who are overwhelmed by the tragedies of this world. This morning I was reading through an old book that belonged to my dad, and came upon the following devotion that I thought spoke well to what you may be facing today.
This is from Words Fitly Spoken, by Donald Grey Barnhouse, published by Tyndale House in 1969.
The Christian is the only person in the world with a right to rejoice. The Psalmist sang, “Our heart shall rejoice in him” (Psalm 33:21). This is true for the Christian in any circumstance whatsoever. The believer can rejoice even in the midst of the deepest distresses. Calamities, like a tidal wave, carry off the unsuspecting, but having swept away the debris which we believers have accumulated about us, leave us standing on the rock. Our shore is swept clean and we have a new glimpse of the ocean of God’s grace. The air is fresh washed by the storm and our lungs are filled with new vigor as we breathe it.
The unbeliever often breaks before calamity, or takes the dull, depressing attitude of the stoic, that one must make the best of a bad job. A stoic may be more admirable than a whiner but he is not whit happier. The roots of Christian calm go deep into the very heart of God.
When we understand this, there is a sense in which we can reverse one of the great thoughts of the New Testament. Paul tells us that the Lord’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Rom 8:16). That is a motion which begins with God and comes down to us. There is also a sense in which our spirits bear witness with His Spirit. The yielded Christian has an uprising of the Spirit which constantly moves towards God. This is one of the marks of the twice-born man; we reach out towards God. Some of the words used by the men in the Book are “yearning… panting… waiting… looking… longing… watching… desiring…”
We reach up into the being of God and find that our all in all is there in Him, and our heart comes back rejoicing. In fact, the only people who really are happy are among those who have been redeemed. The world has gaiety, but no happiness; forgetfulness, but no peace. The world counterfeits every Christian grace, but never is able to produce a coin with the right ring. It is popular to say that “the man worthwhile is the man who will smile when everything goes dead wrong,” but even then the weight of unforgiven sins hangs over the heart, and the despair of the old nature has not been removed. Underneath the surface, the unsaved are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” They are without peace.
The Christian possesses the joy of the Lord. It is his strength. The basis for this joy is obvious. “Rejoice in the Lord.” How can there be reality in joy that has no foundation outside this changing world? All passes; Christ remains. Fix your joy in Him and it will be steadfast. As Paul suggests in his wonderful Epistle to the Philippians, we who are in Christ are honest with God and ourselves. Our worship is in the Spirit, our rejoicing is in Christ Jesus, and we have no confidence in the flesh. This, of course, is the exact opposite of the word’s joy which is fixed in self alone and does not look to Christ. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.”
Grace and peace!