Life is not all joy above sorrow; life is a battle for joy in the midst of sorrow.
~ John Piper, God is the Gospel, p. 112
2 Corinthians 6:4-10
4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
I was reading from Piper's book this morning when I came across the above line and felt it jump off the page. At first when I read it I felt it was true but a bit pessimistic, "...life is a battle for joy in the midst of sorrow." I mean I'm more of the "glass is half-full" kind of person. To think of the things of life as those in which we must continually struggle against, well, frankly, that didn't really attract me to that line of Piper's. Yet the line itself is intriguing and true. I had to read that line a couple of times and really contemplate what Piper was meaning. And then re-read the page it was on.
So, let's climb a little higher up the mountain and get a better view! Here it is in more of it's context:
I am aware that when I use the language of prizing and treasuring and delighting and cherishing and being satisfied by the glory of God in the face of Christ, it could sound to some as if all brokenness and suffering and pain and sorrow have been left behind. That is not true. The Christian never gets beyond the battle with indwelling sin. Life is not all joy above sorrow; life is a battle for joy in the mist of sorrow. The banner that flies over my life and over this book is...2 Corinthians 6:10, "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." p. 111-112
See, where I am at this point...and oh reader don't think I don't have my days!, but is more at the prizing and treasuring and delighting in the glory of God. That's why that quote seemed a little funny when I stumbled across it. I don't see life right now as a continual struggle against sorrows. Even when major things happen that menacingly threaten to loom over my conscience, ruining the moments I have in my day, I have, in the midst of those, experienced the deep peace of God through reaching out to Him and clinging to His promises and truths.
It isn't always easy, and I've found the only way in those moments is to proclaim the glory of God, praise His loving faithfulness and admitting my total need for Him. I have a choice at that point. We all have the same choice: to be trampled by sorrows or to choose God to reign over the moment, being Sovereign over our circumstances and rejoice in the joy of the hope that there is in God! Of the life and light and blessings He brings! For sure there are things that happen in life that legitimately make us fall to our knees as tears close around our field of vision as if curtains have been drawn. But through our grief and pain, God's promises still reign and if we reach out to Him in our weakness, He will make us even stronger that we could have imagined, for through Him anything is possible!
At the end of verse 10 in 2 Corinthians 6 it says, " having nothing, yet possessing everything". The jewel found in all of this is that for those who dwell in Christ we have savored such sweetness while tasting the Glory of God that it drowns out all the sour elements of life threatening our soul's pallet! And the "struggle for joy" no longer becomes so much of a struggle as we continue on our journey of faith. We become so absorbed and transformed by God's glory that the illusions, attachments and impermanent distractions that threaten to plague our minds melt away and in it's midst we are left in the beauty of soul-stirring rejoicing in which sorrow's futile efforts can take no hold.
This is a process for the Christian as we grow and mature in our faith and are transformed by Christ. I don't claim to fully experience this at all times but I have experienced enough of it to know it to be true! There is great victory found in surrendering to God!
Thank you for bringing us into a new day to receive your blessings and have new opportunities to bring you glory and honor. We thank you for your faithful love that provides peace and comfort to our hearts when all around us storms rage and seas swell, threatening to take our eyes off of you. May we be awestruck in wonder at the glories of your reality! May our hearts be so busy rejoicing at the wonders of your grace and mercy that we glide effortlessly through life's stumbling blocks! Help turn our weaknesses into opportunities to show the world the strength we find in you! We love you and praise you.
In Jesus' name,