Saturday, September 12, 2009

Joy Challenge - Day 18 - The Joy Set Before Us

In the book of Hebrews we are given a glimpse of joy through the eyes of Jesus.

"fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

It is a verse of encouragement. The previous verse says:
"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

I am not a theologian, so I can only humbly offer what this says to me. It is a picture of joy whose underpinning is great hope - confident hope. It is one I can embrace when I am going through difficult circumstances and joy seems an impossible dream.

Jesus, who knew from the very moment of creation what He would have to endure, counted it all joy - the terrible physical torture, the shame, the rejection, the weight of the sin of mankind, and separation from His Father - a thing so terrible we cannot even begin to imagine the suffering. How was that possible? What was this joy ?

Did He look ahead in time and see the faces of each one who would some day accept Him as Lord and Savior? Did He love us so much that He could actually feel joy as He walked steadfastly toward Jerusalem and betrayal and death? Did the idea of making a way back to the Father for those of us who would some day walk this earth fill His heart and mind? I believe the answer to all of those questions is yes.

What does that mean for me when I face difficulties I don't feel strong enough to bear - when life seems unjust and unfair - when heaven seems silent? What is the joy set before me? Is it knowing that everything the Father has promised is true; that He will be with me and help me no matter what the circumstances? Is it knowing that He has a plan for my life that is for my ultimate good? Is it knowing that there is not one thing that can happen to me that Jesus hasn't experienced Himself? Is it knowing that because of what Jesus endured I will spend eternity in heaven with Him?

For me, the answer to all those questions is yes. It may not be the "dancing around gaily" sort of joy. Rather it is a deep-seated knowing that I can trust Him with everyone and everything that is most precious to me. It is like a steady stream that flows from the heart of the Father to mine bringing peace, hope and JOY!