WHEN YOUR JOY IS WITHERED AWAY
"...surely the joy of mankind is withered away." v. 12
Whenever I see or catch my sister smiling alone in her room, I know without even asking her the reason why she's happy. She's crazy-not the lunatic or psychotic kind of way-but crazily in-love with a guy.
Love. Just one of the many things that could make a person happy. A mother, when asked what makes her happy, would usually give an answer such as "seeing my children grow and in good health." A father, on the other hand, would say being able to provide the needs of his family is what makes him happy. A student would answer getting high grades and a teenage girl would say shopping. So on and so forth.
How about you? What makes you happy?
But what if, all the things that has made you happy will be taken away? You lost your dream job. You break up with your boy/girlfriend. Have you ever been in a situation where it seems your joy has withered away? Are all your whys been answered?
If you want some answer, let us first examine the first chapter of the book of prophet Joel.
These are the joy of the people:
- New wine - the joy of the drunkards and drinkers of wine (v.5)
- Good harvest (fields, fertile soil, fig trees, wheat and barley, wine - abundance of food and wealth) - the joy of farmers and vine growers.
- Grain offerings and drink offerings - the joy of priests and ministers.
All of these were taken away. The wheat and barley and all the plants (fig tree, palm, pomegranate, apple tress) were destroyed by a nation's invasion, by locust and by drought. They dried up and withered. Grain offerings and drink offerings were cut off from the house of the Lord and the new wine has been snatched from the lips of the drinkers.
But why? Why has God allowed these things to happen to His beloved people - Jerusalem, Judah and Israel? Doesn't God wants them to be happy?
Of course God wants them and us to have abundance or wealth. God always wants to give us a good future and bless us. But the problem starts when people (you, me, we) are satisfied and contented with having full stomach that the gift has become the source of joy instead of the Giver. Even the priest were enjoying their duty and maybe were enjoying their duty more than being in the presence of the Lord.
So the Lord allowed man's joy to be taken away so that man will return to Him. God longs for His people to spend time with Him even for a night in sackcloth (v.13). Just one night. That's all He ask from us. A little of our time. He wants His people to be gathered and united in the assembly maybe because the people had forgotten to join together in thanking or worshiping God for they were busy with their jobs, farms etc.
Because of the drought, famine and sword, the people remembered the Lord and returned to Him. "Even the wild animals pant for you..." (v.20) God wants man to come to Him, seek Him and thirst for Him for He will surely satisfy those who earnestly seek Him.
So when problems come or when our joy withered away, it's just God's way of calling our attention because we have forgotten Him and made other things our source of joy.
What should we do when all our joy are withered away? God commands us to:
- PUT ON SACKCLOTH (v.13)
It means we must humble ourselves, take off our robes (pride) and humble ourselves before the Lord. It also means that we've realize our mistake and repented.
- WAIL BEFORE THE ALTAR (v.13)
Cry out to God. Ask God's forgiveness for loving other things than God and for making other things your joy instead of Him.
- COME, SPEND THE NIGHT IN SACKCLOTH (v.13)
Go back to the Lord with humility and spend time with Him. You've been busy with other things. Don't be like the priests and ministers during the time of Joel who were busy with their duty for God. God wants you more that what you do for Him. God does not need our grain offering or drink offering. He longs for us. For our time. For our hearts. Not just what we do for Him. Make yourself available to God. God wants us to seek His face always.
Because of what happened, the people have nothing to bring or to offer to the Lord but THEIRSELVES.
- DECLARE A HOLY FAST (v.14)
Not just abstinence of food but of what's been stealing your time for God. Leave whatever is keeping you busy. Cut down your time spent in watching TV or whatever that has own your time. Spend time with God.
- CALL A SACRED ASSEMBLY (v.14)
Gather around with other Christians and worship the Lord.
- SUMMON THE ELDERS AND ALL WHO LIVE IN THE LAND TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD YOUR GOD (v.14)
Do not just go back to the Lord alone. Let others come back to God if they too have forgotten the Lord too.
- CALL TO THE LORD (v.19)
Pray. The Lord will surely hear you.
God wants you to be happy. But don't let your happiness keep you from God. Don't let the things that has made you happy make you forget WHO the source is. DO NOT FOCUS OR BE FIXATED AT THE GIFT but FOCUS ON THE GIVER. Do not forget God. Earthly wealth, abundance, and many others are only temporal and the happiness we get from them will never last forever. These could give you happiness but not true joy which only comes from God. Go to God. MAKE HIM YOUR JOY and your joy will be complete.
To the Giver of life and my Joy be the glory.
Your sister through the blood of Christ,