It is interesting how today’s reading in Reclaiming Your Joy dovetails with Chapter 1 in Heart Strings: Finding a Song When You’ve Lost Your Joy. As a reminder, this book, Heart Strings is just a little something I wanted to share with you to enrich our time in the devotional, but I would not expect you to have a copy of it, as it is out of print. Each Tuesday I will write a devotional just for your enrichment, based on a different chapter from this book. As I explained in a previous post, the book Heartstrings was inspired by a phrase from Psalm 137: we hung our harps upon the willows; it explores some of the underlying reasons we lose our joy, with the hope that by understanding the process of losing joy, we can gain it back. The first chapter is called the Grief Tree and explores how grieving can easily lead to the loss of joy. More on that in a minute.
Back to today’s devotional from Reclaiming Your Joy: the lesson is based mostly on Solomon’s book, Ecclesiastes. What he has to say seems more relevant today than ever. “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (ESV Ecc 1:2). Throughout this book, Solomon the Wise mulls over all of his experiences and wisdom and concludes that striving after wisdom, pleasure, folly, toil, advancement, or riches is useless – they come up short, they simply do not fulfill us. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind (ESV Ecc 1:14). The word that jumps out at me is “striving”. This calls to mind the sense of struggle that comes from seeking desperately for something elusive. And Solomon was a man who actually achieved the things that elude most people – wealth, power, influence, wisdom, fame and so much more. He had the world by the tail! What he found at the bottom of his cup was emptiness. I found that too a few years ago. Maybe you can relate? I was a bit of a perfectionist before having kids really humbled me. I worked so hard to be exceed other’s expectations of me…I thought that, through all of that striving, one day I would “get there”. But you can never get to perfection on this earth. And perfection is not a destination. It was all just striving after the wind.
In Heart Strings, Jill Briscoe talks about grieving. We grieve about lost loved ones, lost time, lost opportunities and so much more. And at some point in our spiritual walk, we grieve over the realization that there are times God will not take away our pain, because He wants us to walk through it, with Him. Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion, a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on the way, not in the way (The Message, Romans 9:30). People say time heals all wounds, but I don’t believe that is true. Some wounds linger and the pain gnaws at you. Some wounds seem to heal and then reopen. Some wounds just get worse. On their own, time does not heal all wounds. But Jesus was sent to remove the barriers between the Father and His children, so that we could receive the healing we need from Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed (NIV Is 53:3-5). God heals our wounds. But we must we allow Him to do it. It is about letting go and remembering that Jesus already paid the price to accomplish our healing. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV Matt 11:28-30).
Striving is trying to do it on your own. Resting is knowing that you can’t. Joy comes from the latter.
JustaGirl…just like you.