Tag Archive | joy

How Good is God?

There are two things we don’t often understand very well: The absolute and amazing goodness of God; and our own need to respond to His goodness with worship.

When our lives are not going in the direction we so desperately want them to go; and our minds are overcome with sadness and anxiety; or our hearts are heavy with fear; what can we do?

We may run to family or friends and confide our struggles: Some of whom may offer compassion or sound advice; while others may only frustrate us, because they simply do not or can not understand though they may genuinely try.

We may attempt to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps; digging in and struggling to solve our own problems with resolve and increased effort.

We may give in to despair and turn to any number of things to distract us or to numb our pain.

What else can we do?

We can pray.

You may say, “Hey, I’ve been praying!” And I would reply, I believe you. But I would also say, keep praying. In fact, pray more, pray often, pray without stopping. Make it your aim to touch the very heart of God.

Here’s what I mean. Seek God to find God. Cry out to Him. Pour out your sorrows and your needs to Him. Spend time in His presence. Wait. Listen.

Seeking God is more than asking and getting what we need. Seeking God is learning about Him. Coming to know Him. Growing to understand that what we need and what we long for, whether we know it or not, is Him. He is the end of all Journeys, for a Christian. He is the answer to every question. Until we understand this, we often think of the Almighty Creator of the Universe as merely a means to an end; a supply sergeant filling our requisitions.

Oh, Christian, our Lord is far more than this! He wants us to have the wonderful privilege and experience of knowing Him. He wants to share Himself … with us! He designed us for just such a relationship.

One thing I have learned about God is that He is good; not just nice, or kind, or a little patient … He is extremely good. We are not used to such goodness here on earth. We have become jaded, hardened, fearful, and suspicious. We no longer understand such absolute, pure, tremendous goodness.

Our definition of a good God may include something about Him answering all of our requests immediately and in the affirmative. Yet, He is too good for this. Yes, you read that right: God is much too good to do this to us. He is no cosmic shopping channel. He has His own mind and His own plans about how things ought to go with us. He is quite a bit more experienced and wiser than we are at this life thing. It would behoove us to trust His judgement. And His love for us.

Do ask God for what you honestly think you need; but then trust Him to make the best and wisest choices for you. Remember, His definitions are quite a bit different than ours.  He is for us and He is good. We can trust Him.

So, when your mind is troubled and your heart is fearful, purposely think on how very good Your Lord is. Take your mind where you want your heart to go. Fix your thoughts on the goodness of God, and let them dwell there. I can tell you from personal experience that this really helps. King David testifies in the Psalms that this is very effective in lifting us out of our sadness and desperation.

We were made to worship just as a plant was made to seek the sunlight. We will worship something, even if it is our troubles, our selves, or the ideal lives we think we must have.  Worship is different than we think it is. It is not a ceremony where everything is perfect, hushed, and practiced. Worship is, among other descriptions, an attitude toward God; a deep wonder at and appreciation for Someone who deserves such appreciation. This is even sweeter, when this worship stands alone because of love and admiration; regardless of favors given or not given.

When we take our thoughts and our focus off of our troubles and off of our frustration at having these troubles, and fix them on our good God; an amazing thing happens. We enter into an appreciation and love for which we were created. A need which we didn’t realize we had, begins to be met. The relief and joy which move into our awareness often eclipse the very things that were filling our focus and heavily pressing on our hearts.

Oh Beloved Christian, enter into this worship of your good God. Talk to Him, then listen to Him. Spend time with Him. Read His Word, because there He describes Himself. Look at Him; gaze at Him. Then you, too, will whisper in awe, or shout with joy, God is so very good!!!

Psalm 27:4

The one thing I ask of the Lord

    the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

    delighting in the Lord’s perfections

    and meditating in His Temple.

Psalm 28:6,7

Praise the Lord!

    For He has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and shield.

    I trust Him with all my heart.

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.

    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 63:1-8

O God, You are my God;

    I earnestly search for You.

My soul thirsts for You;

    my whole body longs for You

in this parched and weary land

    where there is no water.

I have seen You in your sanctuary

    and gazed upon Your power and glory.

Your unfailing love is better than life itself;

    how I praise You!

I will praise You as long as I live,

    lifting up my hands to You in prayer.

You satisfy me more than the richest feast.

    I will praise You with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of You,

    meditating on You through the night.

Because You are my helper,

    I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings.

I cling to You;

    Your strong right hand holds me securely.

Psalm 86:5

“O Lord, You are so good,

so ready to forgive,

so full of unfailing love

for all who ask for Your help.”

John 4:23,24

But the time is coming—

indeed it’s here now—

when true worshipers

will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way.

 For God is Spirit,

so those who worship Him

must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Philippians 4:4

“Always be full of joy in the Lord.

I say it again—rejoice!”

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You’ve been here all along!!

The days were painfully long. The woman did not think she could endure many more of them. She felt heightened anxiety nearly every moment of each day. The only respite from this emotional turmoil was the hopelessness that often smothered her like a heavy quilt in July. At least when it descended, the fear abated for a short season. Yet, the nameless dread rushed back like air into a vacuum each time the bleakness gave way. It was one or the other. No peace. No rest. Death would be a welcome relief. Or so she thought betimes.

Yet, a light had begun to shine in her darkness. Initially, only a tiny ray of hope reached her. Then more hope and, here and there, bits of peace. She knew the source of these stirrings of relief. Jesus. She had cried out to Him constantly in her profound despair. Even though she had not been able to feel His touch or presence at this time in her life, she had screamed to Him in her heart; hoping beyond hope that He would, indeed, hear her cries and rescue her. For truly, despair is a death row where each inmate is chained alone in darkness, and no one is ever executed. Resolution is not the aim of the jailer; torture is. Into this darkness the light was dawning.

On a beautiful day, the lady went for a walk with her husband. She had been reading a devotion by Charles Spurgeon about how deep and unfathomable is the love of Christ; as unending as an ocean to a seabird skimming along the surface. She was dwelling on this thought, as she and her husband strolled down the desert path under the fair blue sky. Then it happened.

The day rolled back and reality, as she knew it, folded away. Still, the two of them walked hand in hand through the cacti and muhly grass. What was happening? The sky was above, the ground beneath, and husband beside. Nevertheless, actuality had pulled away the heavy blanket of normalcy. She was immediately enveloped by joy. It was strong, alive, crisp, and verdant. Joy filled the air, or rather, joy replaced the air, and she inhaled its purity.

At the very heart of this pulsing aliveness was Jesus. She could not see Him, but He was there! The joy emanating from Him washed, baptized, and filled everything with hope and love. She looked around with her new awareness of joy at the same scenery she had known for a decade, now bathed in peace.  How could she not have known this before?! How could she have existed all these years and not have waded in joy’s strong and generous current?

Oh, such joy! The lady reveled in it; her words eagerly tumbled out to her husband, “The grandest music doesn’t describe joy well enough! Words can’t define joy! Artists can’t create a painting lovely enough to show its colors, shades, and beauty! And just think! Joy lives just beyond the heavy shroud of this life; waiting for those of us who know and love Jesus!”

As her dark chains fell away and disintegrated, the lady said to her Lord, “You’ve been here all along!! Oh Lord, Jesus, thank you!”

The heavy blanket of pseudo-reality had been pealed back to reveal certainty itself. Himself. Though she knew that normalcy must eventually be laid back over her mind, emotions, and awareness, she also knew that despair could never again torture and crush her heart with fear and desolation. For she was tasting of heaven; Drinking deeply of eternity! She could never forget this luxuriant breath of life! She would ever after recall the magnificent Joy that thrives in the presence of Jesus!

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Isaiah 55:12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

John 16:22b I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. (Jesus)

(All Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible.)