Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 21, 2017
By Tripp Prince
Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs. Isaiah 61:7 (NRSV)
So often our joy seems circumstantial. We feel joyful when life goes as planned, when our children are flourishing, when we are respected in our jobs, when those we love are healthy, and when the future looks bright. Yet when our children walk away from faith, we lose a job, or when a doctor calls with life altering news, we fall apart. We long to be people who are characterized by joy in all circumstances, and we must be reminded afresh that this is only possible when the LORD of all draws near and reminds us that we are loved, welcomed, and safe in his Kingdom.
Isaiah 61 is written to call forth everlasting joy in the hearts and lives of people who have suffered generations of heartbreak, suffering, and captivity. It is a passage that reminds us that the world is deeply affected by the reality of sin and death. It is a world in which there are “brokenhearted, prisoners, and captives” (61:1), as well as “robbery and wrongdoing” (61:8). And yet, the great promise of this passage is that everlasting joy will come to those who have suffered unspeakable pain and loss, and that systems of injustice and abuse will be healed and restored.
The promise of joy is never abstract positivity or blind optimism but is deeply rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is the joy of God drawing near in Jesus, entering into “the devastations of many generations” (61:4) in order to bring his perfect rule and justice. When God became flesh he took upon himself all of our shame and guilt and welcomed us into perfect communion with God. Isaiah reminds us that we who were naked and barren are now clothed in “robes of righteousness,” dressed and ready to celebrate with great joy like a bride or a groom on their wedding day (Isaiah 61:10).
Everlasting joy is only to be found in the presence of our loving Savior. Joy that transcends all circumstances is a gift of grace that we receive with gratitude and hearts filled with praise. If you today find joy to be elusive or a distant memory, focus afresh on the goodness of God shown in Jesus, and as you draw near to him, trust that his nearness will be for you an everlasting joy.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
PrayerFather, remind me that true joy is only to be found in the nearness of your presence. Help me to stay close to you so that I can remain joyful in any circumstance or situation. Amen.
ApplicationWhat specific challenges or trials are currently threatening to steal your joy?
Related ReadingJohn 16:22; Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8-9
Post/Tweet todayJoy that transcends all circumstances is a gift of grace that we receive with gratitude and hearts filled with praise. #WisdomHunters #everlastingjoy
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