When The Joy Is Gone!

November 25th, 2013

Yesterday we had A WONDERFUL Sunday here at Grace Baptist Church. In both the morning and evening services the building was full. On Saturday two of our men were able to lead two teenage brothers to the Lord while out soul winning. Both teenage young men came to church yesterday morning and they brought their mom with them. This precious mother also received Christ as her Saviour and came forward in the invitation at the conclusion of the service professing her faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to this family five more precious souls were saved and once again God moved in a mighty way here at Grace. Yesterday was yet another Sunday for joy and celebration.  We rejoice that folks have joined us on the journey of faith.  Yet, not every day is so joyous.  The truth is that sometimes the pain that we can and do experience in life robs us of our joy.

We live in a world that is full of brokenness and pain.  Loved ones get sick.  Marriages get stretched to the breaking point.  Our friends at times betray us.  The nation is polarized.  The economy still hasn’t recovered and jobs are hard to find.  Morally we seem to lose ground almost every day.  The news reports speak of winter storms, hurricanes, floods, tornados and earthquakes.  The threat of terrorism persists.  The list could go on and on for hours. 

Lingering in the hearts of many Christians is that nagging sense that things aren't quite right, not as they could be, nor as they should be.  Many feel guilt, condemnation and failure. It leaves us asking the tough questions of life.  Why aren't things better?  Why cannot I get on the victory side in my Christian life?

The Prophet Jeremiah served God in a time when “When Joy was Gone” or at least hard to find. Jeremiah 8:18 “When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.” The prophet asked in Jeremiah 8:22 “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

Jeremiah is wondering about those promises God has made? Why haven't we been restored? Why haven't we been made whole?   Even those of us who have committed ourselves to living lives of faithful obedience to God may wonder at times if such faith makes any difference. We pray for years for the soul of a friend or loved one; we plead with God to make our relationships better; we tithe faithfully but still struggle to find a job that can pay the bills and provide for the family.  We live the wholesome lifestyle prescribed by the scriptures but still experience chronic pain or sickness.  We do our best to "trust and obey" but still we sometimes wonder if God even knows or cares. 

So why is there so much evil in this world? Why do we face such tremendous tragedies? Where is God in all of this?  For Jeremiah it was clear. God had spoken to him directly. It was God's judgment upon the nation of Israel who had strayed from their relationship with God.  God was behind it.  

What did Jesus have to say about the trials and tribulations of this life?  Jesus never really answered directly why much of the hurt and hard ache in our world occurs. He did say that it was not because of sin in the story of the man born blind in John 9. On another occasion in Luke 13 Jesus said that the collapse of a large building in Jerusalem, which killed 18 people, did not happen because they were more guilty sinners than any others living in the city. He said plainly that all of us have a need to repent.

We have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.”  The truth is, we don't know why children die. WE don't know why hurricanes make last minute turns, sparing some while bringing devastation to others. We don't why troubles seem only to multiply for some folks. We don't know why healthy folks get cancer. There are so many things we just don't know. 

Praise God for what we do know!  We do know that God's love for us has no boundary. We do know that there is a God who can heal us. There is a God who can soothe the pain and mend the heart. We know it is so.  

I love the old negro- spiritual that says “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” That balm, my precious friend, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. He has a ministry of touching the untouchable, embracing the erring, healing the hurting, and forgiving the fallen.

In the Lord Jesus Christ we encounter a God who will not abandoned us even in our sin. Friend, it is for that reason, we find the strength to look beyond the days when joy is gone and live for the day when joy shall be return. Friend, until we see the Saviour face to face, our pain is God's pain. Yesterday here at Grace Baptist Church we saw once again that Jesus can set the sinner free and make him or her brand new! Oh what Joy! Oh what Glory!

This Thanksgiving Season let’s spread the message far and near – Jesus Cares!  I love the hymn written by Frank E. Graeff, in 1901.

Does Jesus Care When My Heart Is Pained
Too Deeply For Mirth Or Song,
As The Burdens Press, And The Cares Distress,
And The Way Grows Weary And Long?

Oh, Yes, He Cares, I Know He Cares,
His Heart Is Touched With My Grief;
When The Days Are Weary, The Long Nights Dreary,
I Know My Savior Cares.