Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How can God command joy?

From September 4, Diamonds in the Dust, devotional, by Joni Eareckson Tada

Be Joyful in Hope

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12

Forced bed rest is no fun.  But I know a secret that helps me face it in faith,  I choose a theme verse to help me keep focused.  During a recent four-week stint in bed, I chose Romans 12:12.

While meditating on that verse, I wondered why God asks us to be joyfuil in hope.  I can understand why He reminds us to be faithful in prayer---so many times in hardships we slack off in prayer.  I can also understand why God asks us to be patient in affliction ---patience is hard to muster when you're hurting.

But why does God say to be joyful in hope?  Obviously, there must be many times when we lack joy in hope.  Think about it.  The focus of our hope is yet to be fulfilled;  we don't yet possess that for which we hope.  And you'll agree that it's hard to be joyful about something we don't yet have!

Lying in bed, it hit home that God wants me to be joyful about future things.  Just as we have the command to be faithful in prayer and patient in affliction, we have a command to be joyful in hope.  How can God command joy?  It's easy once we realize what's over the heavenly horizon.

Does the idea of heavenly glories above put a smile on your face?  Do you get a charge when you talk about the return of the Lord?  Words like "pleasure," "happiness," and "delight" should come to mind when you hope in the Lord.  Heaven will seem more near and real to you as you stir up your joy over that for which you hope.  And remember, it's a command for your own good.

You give me so much hope, Lord, that I can't help but be joyful.  You are the focus of my hope and the source of my delight.  Whatever I face today, may I face it with the attitude of Romans 12:12. 

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