Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Songs In the Night"

     When faced with difficult and trying circumstances, we are all tempted to join King David in believing that a change in those circumstances would enable us to better know God's peace and joy: "Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest!" (Psalm 55:6). 

    Of course, even a cursory Scripture reading belies such a notion.  In both doctrine and anecdotal evidence, the Old and the New Testament continually call us to believe that peace and joy lie not in circumstance, but in Christ.  "In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore... W
hen they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God" (Psalm 16:11; Acts 16:23-25).

    When we succumb to the deception of believing that circumstance determines the condition of our heart, we may first analyze the failure in terms of ourselves.  "I'm just not dedicated enough, or faithful enough.  I'm just one of those people who has trouble being at peace when things get difficult."  In truth, such bemoaning accurately characterizes all originally born of Adam's race to one degree or another.  The fact of the matter, however, doesn't primarily involve our dedication, or even our faith.  The problem lies in Christ, not directly of course, but rather in our knowledge and understanding of Him.  When we perceive circumstance as the basis of peace and joy, we actually portray the Lord Jesus in our minds (and subsequently, in our attitudes, words, and actions) as not being who He is.  The problem lies not in our weakness, but in our ignorance or failure to know who He is, and thus affirm His strength.  Indeed, our Lord is abundantly able to reveal joy and peace where it seems it could not be.  When we choose to disregard His presence, capacity and ability, we therefore make a statement far more about Him (or our perception of Him) than about ourselves.

    This truth establishes a strong basis for the experience of Christ's peace and joy in the most trying and enduring of circumstances.  Indeed, if the issue is not so much about our personality and proclivity, but rather about His person and work, we stop fighting ourselves and bemoaning our weakness.  We rather seek to remember and affirm the Lord Jesus as our peace and joy.  "With all thy getting, get understanding" declared Solomon in the Old Testament (Proverbs 4:7).  The New Testament fulfills this command by revealing that the understanding we so desperately require concerns the Lord Jesus: "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  Such knowledge of Him and His peace and joy- eliciting capacity makes possible a heart at rest in all things, and songs of praise sung in midnight imprisonments.  Yes, this is the Christ whose presence of peace transcends any and every circumstance as we remember who He is, and as we believe in what He can do.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.  In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.'
(John 16:33)

"God... giveth songs in the night."
(Job 35:10)

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