"They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. so they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." (Acts 5:40-42)
Did you get that? I had to let it soak in. I have read it over and over for three days now. These men were beaten and then left rejoicing. They left acting out the Joy they were full of. They were full of joy after being flogged. The were full of joy because they were able to suffer for Him.
Some how these thoughts reminded me of Psalm 37. David is writing and I don't really know any of the back ground to this psalm, but I do know that this man was human and suffered in many ways. First he followed God when the mightiest men wouldn't dare to fight a giant. He was then loved by the king and fought beside him in many battles only to end up running for his life because the king's jealousy of his accomplishments. He spent years living in caves. Then when he did become king he made a grave mistake that caused war within his own family and lived to see more then one of his children die. If anybody thinks they have had a messy life, they should read about Davids life. Because of his mistakes he watched not only his children die, but his nation hurt deeply. My highlights of his life have only begun to scratch the surfice of what his life was like. Back to psalm 37. He starts off saying don't worry because of the evil people around you instead..."Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. " (Psalm 37:3-5)
Two years and two months ago I experienced for the first time depression and it was dark. As I walked through that, begging to feel God's love, I wanted my son to be named laughter. I love to laugh and during that pregnancy I couldn't. I couldn't even smile. I stayed faithful to God and I cultivated my faith. It was hard work. Pulling the weeds everyday, still only seeing blackness. Until the moment my son of laughter entered the world. He didn't scream like most babies. He was content. In just a few short weeks he let out his first laugh and has been full of laughter ever since. Laughter bubbles out of him in uncontrollable ways. God gave me the desire of my heart. Like in Acts the joy followed the flogging.
As my brain has once again attempted to take me hostage I am fighting for all I am worth. I defend myself with trust. I trust in God's faithfulness to keep His Word. As I randomly read each book of the Bible I see these words: Joy, thanksgiving, joyful, grace, rejoice, give thanks. This is what God wants from us and for us.
Today, God showed me that I'm winning this battle against myself. He showed me that He is faithful and my trust in Him has not gone unseen. The joy is followed by the flogging. I received a note from a friend that brought beautiful tears to my eyes. Gift number 646. "...I always have a sense of calmness and joy when I have spent time or talked to you."
Thank you friend for letting God show His love through your words.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
~ Proverbs 3:5-8