Dance With the Joyful
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.
Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. Jeremiah 31:3-5
You might be going through heartache or tremendous pressure right now. And as you read the title of this week’s devotion, you might have thought, “Yeah, right. I don’t feel very much like dancing today. In fact, I’m not sure I will ever dance again.”
Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet for very good reason. He had the depressing task of telling his people that because of their disobedience they were going to be conquered by the Babylonians. God said they would not repent or believe him until it happened, but to tell them anyway. They responded to his message by putting him in a well, where they left him for dead. Jeremiah 38:6 says, “They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”
Maybe that’s how it feels where you are today, like you’re sinking down into the mud. If you’re not there now, perhaps you remember a time when you were. Before Jeremiah ended up in the well, God gave him a word of hope. The nation would suffer tremendously, but eventually things would get better for the faithful. They would feel joy again; they would dance again.
Hudson Taylor said, “It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is; it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord – then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”
Chuck Swindoll commented on this in his book Laugh Again: “The pressure on you may be intense. A half-dozen joy stealers may be waiting outside your door, ready to pounce at the first opportunity. However, nothing can rob you of your hold on grace, your claim to peace, or your confidence in God without your permission. Choose joy. Never release your grip!”
I encourage you today. Hold onto to the joy God planted in your heart the day you gave your life to Him. Heartache, grief, and pressure may be bearing down on you so hard you feel you can hardly take a breath. Don’t let the pressure separate you from Christ, but instead drive you closer to Him. Jesus has experienced this kind of pain. But He chose to look beyond the cross and the rejection of man, to the joyous victory of the resurrection. And because He conquered death, we can dance.
Dearest Father, there are days when I don’t feel very much like dancing. The pain of this world crushes and perplexes me. In times like this draw me close to you. Don’t let me lose my grip on joy. I will trust in you. Amen.
~ Beth Vice, 2010