Wednesday, April 12, 2006

River of joy

My hero, Richard Wurmbrand, spent fourteen years of his life in prison being tortured for his faith. He tells the story of being so discouraged for the abuses heaped on him that he could not pray. He could only dance. So he lifted his hands and danced an insane dance of joy before his Creator.

Joy comes from a river much deeper than the fickle streams of momentary situations. We draw water from the wells of salvation from a deep underground river that makes glad the city of God. This river of life is a river of healing, a river of joy, a river of peace, a river of liquid love. It washes our soul in the grace of God’s unending power.

Each of us face situations that will challenge us to draw from this river. The psalmist draws from this river. He meditates upon the Word day and night, and is thus like a tree planted by the river of living water. O that we might learn to eat the Word of God. There is strength for the weary and light for the dark in heart.

As most of you know, I’ve faced gradually increasing kidney problems for over twenty years. During that time, I sometimes struggled with feelings of doubt and fear. Again and again and again, I’ve found comfort in the Word of God.

Over the last year, my kidney function has decreased dramatically. Recently, I enjoyed a series of iron infusions to help combat anemia caused by this kidney problem. In the past year, I’ve registered with a transplant clinic, and now have been presented with the possibility of in-home dialysis. My doctor requested that Kelly and I learn about the various dialysis options, so we might be prepared to make a decision soon.

In the midst of such circumstances, I find my hope and my peace and my faith strengthened through the river of life flowing out from the Word of God. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on a passage in Psalm 92:

12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing,
15 To declare that the LORD is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Psalms 92:12-15

Don’t we desire that our life count for something? That we don’t live and die without making an impact? Here is a wonderful promise of God blessing his people and causing their lives to bear much fruit. It strengthens me in my own particular challenges. I may not see how all the details will be worked out day to day but He is at work and I can completely trust in His power and provision and purposes for my life.

And amazingly, in the midst of great challenges, I discover joy. Joy unspeakable. Each of us face challenges in life. It may relate to health issues or money issues or relational issues or other situations, but we are not alone. In the midst of our struggles, we can worry and fret and compare and question. Or we can trust. We can drink deeply from the fountain of life that never runs dry.

During this pilgrimage of Lent, may we all run to the spring of joy, of laughter, of strength, of healing, of unfathomable goodness. May the joy of the Lord truly be our strength.

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