Monday, July 7, 2008

Verse of the week -- Psalm 126:5,6

Sometimes joy seems fleeting, temporary, elusive, and sometimes even superficial.

As I continually found myself last week encouraged not to grow weary in the daily tasks of motherhood, I also found myself thinking about joy.

What is joy?
Where does it come from?
What does it look like in day-to-day life?
What is its focus?
Should I be more joyful?
Can I be more joyful?

While I do not pretend to have the answers to all of these questions, it set me on a quest that will last beyond this blog entry, and beyond the next week or even two. I started by looking up each time that the words 'joy,' 'joyful,' or 'joyfully' appeared in the Bible. I'm still working through the list, reading the verses with their context and jotting down notes. I chose a couple favorites to focus on this week, as they highlight a couple themes I saw emerging on the topic of joy.

In Psalm 126:5,6 it says, "Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."

Not all references to joy talk about sorrow and weeping in the present, but I was surprised how many references to joy were future references. It is a promise of joy, a hope of the joy to come. The joy that should exist in our lives (it is after all a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22) does not stem from the temporal things of this world, but of the great promise to come. This world and all that it offers is fleeting, but heaven offers joy, the joy that enabled Christ to endure the cross, and can draw us through days that may at times seem sorrow-filled. Just as faith relies on a promise of future reward, so our joy finds its fertilizer in the future. I love the picture of bringing my "sheaves" with me. The journey may at times be tough and the days of a mother wrought with challenge, but the reward of seeing my children walking in the Lord will leave an eternal spring in my step.

Another theme that I found in joy came in its form of expression. So many of the references to joy say, "shout of joy" or "shout joyfully." Joy is not quiet. Joy is not something that will go unnoticed in your life. Joy is something you cannot keep from escaping noticeably from your lips. How often does just the opposite proclaim itself boldly from my lips? My criticisms and disappointments are sometimes too loud, are my affirmations and joys even louder?

I look forward to continuing this journey to joy, remembering that on this path I need to always have an eye on the future, and not to stifle the joy that He gives.


Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him


~Psalm 126:5,6~

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