I read the coolest verse over the weekend (yes, as I was still trying to catch up to todays date in my chronological daily Bible study!). Here it is:
“This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD.”
This passage is set in the context of the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by God. God warned the people for years and years, that if they did not turn from their evil ways and pagan worship, that He would destroy their towns and all the people in it, by allowing the Babylonians to siege them and win. Their sins had stirred Gods anger, and the time had come for the consequences of their disobedience.
But in the verses above, God is promising restoration. As I read this verse, I saw a little glimpse into what might bring a smile to Gods face.
As I mentioned in yesterdays post, God does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow, suffering or pain. He does not want His people to hurt (Lamentations 3:33)
What He does enjoy is joy, happiness and laughter. God had done what He had to do, but this verse implies that God longed to hear the sounds of joy, and gladness, and celebration again. He desired to hear the sounds of happiness echoing from the earth up to the heavens.
He wanted to look down from the heavens and see the streets of Jerusalem filled with marriage celebrations, songs of happiness, and the voices of His people singing praises to Him.
As I think about the difficulties that I face, that my friends face, or that my family faces – I have to believe that God hurts. That ultimately, although He may be allowing or causing the situation for a purpose that we may not be aware of, that what He really longs for is for us to be joyful, filled with gladness, and full of His praises.
He longs for our hearts to be filled with peace and prosperity, and to know that our hope can come by knowing that in His timing, we will have all of those emotions in abundance.
However, in the meantime, we are each still faced with every day life, and the hurts andn disappointments that each day may bring. But Gods Word reassures us, that if our hearts are right with Him and seeking His perspective, we can still be filled with joy and gladness, just as Jeremiah was.
In Jeremiah 32, we see that Jeremiah is still in prison in the courtyard of the guards, due to his continued predeictions of doom and gloom for Jerusalem. It was in that place that the Lord came to him, and said “ask me a question!”. The Lord promised that if Jeremiah asked, He would tell him of great things to come. The Lord wanted to give Jeremiah a reason to be joyful in the midst of his imprisonment, when all seemed lost and hopeless.
So Jeremiah asked. And God told him of a time when He would heal Jerusalem’s wounds, and make it a prosperous and peaceful place. He told him of a righteous descendant from King Davids line, who would one day come and save the land, save Judah, and restore the name of the Lord. And He told him that this descendant would sit on the throne of Israel, forever. (Jer. 33:1-26).
Jeremiah trusted, he obeyed, he sought wisdom, and he got better news than he could have ever hoped for. I can imagine him hooping and hollering with joy and gladness, as he tried to celebrate despite the chains that were inhibiting his movement. In the midst of his pain, I be he was celebrating over great news. His perspective had changed. His focus had changed. And in Gods timing, his circumstances changed as well – but despite it all, his heart stayed focused on God.
That is the type of joy, gladness, and celebration God wants from us too. We may not be physically chained, but we may feel bound by chains of despair, financial problems, family issues, marital problems, job loss, illness, hopelessness, and so on… but that same type of elation and celebration that God describes in this passage, can also be ours if we keep our eyes focused on Him, and not on our circumstances.
Friends, its just a normal ‘ol Thursday – but it has the potential to be a Terrific, Thankful, Trusting, Thrilling, Tremendous Thursday if our joy comes from Christ alone! It can be an awesome Thursday as we focus on Gods promises, and not lifes challenges.
So lets tuck these verses into our hearts today, and get ready to celebrate!
Jeremiah 15:16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight,for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. (NLT)
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (NLT)