Sunday, May 11, 2014

Joy Through Tears?

I was looking at the Facebook feed tonight, and since it is Mother’s Day, it was inevitably full of related comments.  Two comments, one right after the other, were polar opposites.  One was by a grieving mother who had had a second miscarriage after a recent previous one.  One was a rejoicing woman who had been barren and just brought home this week two siblings for adoption.  My first thought was, “Why does God give to some and take away from others?”  Both serve Him, both love Him, both wait on Him.  The two had a Mother’s Day like the contrasts of night and day.  And there are those like me caught in the middle, not exactly bereaved but having no one in her nest and telling herself that she is a mother to the world—though any barren woman knows that is a weak consolation.

So what do we say to all these different women today?  I did a word search in the Bible on rejoicing, joy, and delight and found that people found joy in the Lord in a great variety of circumstances—some found joy in people and some in God’s material blessings, including children, but these were least the focus of Scripture, and the material blessings were not separated from God Himself, such that joy in the blessings carried over into joy in God who gave them.  But beyond the material blessings, the unchanging, steady joy frequently described in Scripture was found in God Himself, in God’s unchanging law, in God’s love, in God’s attributes, in God’s justice, in God’s deliverance, etc. This joy was not only associated with prosperity, as we see in Job, for he said, “Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain— that I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10).  Whether in weeping or feasting, may our joy always be found in the unshakeable desire to honor our all-wise and good God.  Who can know the mind of the LORD in individual circumstances?  But whatever else His purpose, I do know that God uses the joy of the new mother to praise His goodness, the longing of the barren woman to praise His sufficiency, and the grief of the bereaved mother to praise His comfort.  For when we don’t deny Him in pain, He proves to be our all in all, and when we don’t forget Him in prosperity, He proves Himself more glorious than the earthly blessings.  Happy-in-God Mother’s Day.