Week 5, Day 2
Begin with two minutes of silence.
Scripture : Psalm 51:8-12
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Devotional : Praying for Joy Unexperienced
By Ava Beck
Suffering is a deeply personal experience. So personal, in fact, that we believe that no one can understand the suffering we are experiencing when we are experiencing it. In a sense, this is true. No two people will have the same accumulation of experiences leading them to a place of deep suffering, so no human can fully comprehend the extent of the pain experienced by another, whether it is at their own hands or at the hands of another. When David wrote the psalm above, he had just been confronted by Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba; he was experiencing deep pain and separation from the God he loved so dearly. The fact that he had, himself, sinned and created this separation was of no consequence to the pain he experienced. In the midst of this pain, he prayed for a joy that he remembered, a joy unexperienced.
The night before Jesus was taken to the cross, he experienced another kind of suffering: an anticipation of separation from the same God, but at the hands of another. But Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured the suffering of the world for a joy foreseen, a joy unexperienced. The joy of reunion with the Father.
Whether by our own doing, by the works of others, or by the reality of life in a fallen world, suffering has come and it will come again. But in the midst of our deeply personal sufferings, we can turn to the same prayer and the same endurance as those that came before. The joy we long to experience in the middle of difficulty, I believe, comes from a true communion with our God, not from the changing of our circumstances. David still had to face the consequences of his actions. Jesus still went to the cross. We can pray fervently for a joy unexperienced and be upheld through suffering with a willing spirit until it is restored.
Question to Consider
What is my experience of personal suffering right now? What joy can I pray to experience?
Father God, as you have always strengthened and upheld your people through suffering I pray now that you would uphold me. I pray fervently for a joy unexperienced and I trust that you are a God of promises waiting to be fulfilled. Lead me toward endurance and communion with you, knowing that my joy will one day be restored. Amen.
End with two minutes of silence and stillness.