Monday, March 15, 2010
Times for Joy
I have begun reading Matt Harrison's "A Little Book on Joy." Many other blogs have posted about this book. I am going slowly through it. Last night in chapter 4, I appreciated the following thoughts:
"Joy . . . has its seasons. It should give you the greatest comfort and joy that the Bible is filled not only with evidence of joy, but also times of no joy. And that does not mean the Holy Spirit is absent. For everything there is a season . . . Jesus looked to the Word of God regarding the future, and it sustained him in the joyless present. . . . Moments such as the Transfiguration and his baptism - "This is my beloved Son!" - were joyous past events, were remembered by Jesus (and actually grabbed hold of him!) during the joyless times. And these events are the same for us because in our baptism the Lord speaks the same Word to us: Beloved!" (pp. 29, 31)
Seasons for joy - how true! No one is joyous all the time, though perhaps we think we ought to be. Harrison notes that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), and then uses the example of an apple tree that - guess what? Doesn't produce apples all year round, but in its season. I never made that connection before. There are times when the tree is bare of leaves and sitting in the cold of winter. There are times when the tree is growing, its leaves are sprouting, and its flowers budding - but no fruit yet. And then there is time for fruiting.
But Harrison doesn't leave the example there, he teaches us how to go through the seasons when the fruit is not being produced. Looking forward to the promises of God, and looking to past joys and promises fulfilled (especially our baptism), we are sustained in the present. And so all is based on the Word and work of God. Joy cannot not manufactured, only grown. It is the work of God in us, and always at the right time.