“Occupied with Joy”

" There is night so we can appreciate day, sorrow so we can appreciate joy, evil so we can appreciate good, 'YOU' so I can appreciate 'LOVE' ! "Creative Commons License Parvin via Compfight
My pastor has been preaching through the book of Ecclesiastes on Sunday evenings. Recently he referred to Ecclesiastes 5:29, and I had one of those I’ve-never-seen-this-before moments. Here is the verse from the ESV: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

Who of us does not identify in some measure with Job and all of his sorrows? Life does not get much worse than what Job experienced: loss of children (the worst loss I can imagine), possessions, boils covering his body, and all were allowed by God to prove his servant. Reading through the book of Job, we see him acknowledging his grief and desperate state, but he fights to accept it all as from the Lord, and “in all this Job did not sin or charge God for wrong.” (Job 1:22)

Since there are now many days of my life, I find that I remember less and less of the bad days and more and more of the good days. For instance, like every mother, I remember the birth of my first child. My husband was there for the labor and present in the delivery room. Although the process was considered uneventful by medical standards, it had a profound effect on my husband who held my hand afterwards and stated, “I will never put you through this again!” How soon we forgot the pain and trauma of childbirth as we went on to birth three more! Yes, I remember the pain, the sleepless nights, colicky babies. I remember that those things happened, but I remember more the joy each of my children has brought, not only in their growing up years but also as they have matured into Godly people who desire to please the Lord. It is he who has so marvelously occupied us with joy; for if we remembered only the pain of our days, surely we would all be suicidal.

Lately doors have opened to share my struggle with cancer. In writing and speaking of all I have endured in these 20 years, there has been a recounting and a remembering of the woes of the disease. Yes, there was suffering, sickness and a dragging through life that was not fun. But what I most remember is the kindness of friends and family who helped with meals (even gift certificates for dinners out), their faithful prayers that continue to this day, and a loving heavenly father who truly occupied me with his joy! How amazing is that?! Pretty amazing! I have truly experienced God’s enduring grace and he has occupied my heart with his joy.

Getting through his testing was not easy for Job. Neither is it easy for us to get through the hard times of our lives. To come out on the other side of a trial with joy and rejoicing, there has to be the deliberate choice to see God in everything and to know any hard place is for our good and his glory. As I have read through Job, it seemed that Job suffered forever. I was surprised to learn that all of these griefs of his life covered a period of about one year. Job certainly had the correct perspective as he proclaims: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold….” (Job 19:25-27a) This is a powerful demonstration of what it means to be “occupied with joy.”

The Lord be praised!

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