Joy In God
By Ward Fenley
Chapter 5
Joy in the Little Things
Joy in the Desert
Joy in a Glass of Water
Joy in Work
Joy in Rest
Joy in a Wise Child
Joy in the Little Things?

Joy in the Desert

While growing up in northern California, our family would take yearly trips to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where many of our closest relatives lived. There were sections of our two-day journey that always seemed so long and unending. One of those sections was the road from Barstow, California to Kingman, Arizona, and the other was from Kingman, Arizona to Grants, New Mexico. For whatever reason I just could not get enjoyment out of those sections of the trip. Basically it was simply desert—dry, lifeless desert. But as I grew older my affection and appreciation for the desert began to increase. Slowly I became aware of the unique silence and expanse of the desert—that peculiar isolation that the desert offered. Getting out of the car in the middle of absolutely nowhere and feeling and hearing only the warm desert breeze became absolutely awe-inspiring and a thrill for me. Whenever I take my yearly vacation I always consider places that will have wide-open desert terrain.

Interestingly, however, I have found that many people cannot quite understand my longing to travel through the desert. For many of them the thought of the desert brings images of what I experienced as a child—the arid and lonely place where no one lives. But something happened in my mind. A transformation took place. For some reason my mind was able to experience the desert in a whole new way. It was able to appreciate that which previously was somewhat despised. In fact, I have taken friends to the desert who likewise have come to appreciate the eerie barrenness of the desert. For them and me it took some thought, and quite frankly it took experience. I needed to actually be there in the middle of it—to step into its beauty and tranquil solitariness. Through pondering and experiencing the desert, what used to be a far from desirable place became a haven, which I desire to see at least on a yearly basis.

But some very important things had to happen: First, there had to be that mental step that was taken in order for me to be willing to walk out into the desert. Then I needed to follow through with that step and actually enter into the experience. Once I was right in the middle of it all, I then had to ponder what it was that I was experiencing. I had to examine my surroundings and contemplate the incredible reality that God actually created this. God actually had specific intention to design this, what seemed to be, forsaken land. He had every tumbleweed and cactus, every mountain and edifice of sandstone, every purple and orange color of the desert sky, planned from eternity. And beyond this, and even more incredibly, He specifically had planned that day for me to enjoy this creation for His glory. He intended for me to get out in that wilderness and begin to admire not merely the creation, but to actually admire Him for creating it, so that I, one of His children, would enjoy this vast piece of art. He had designed the desert creation as a most unique and interactive piece of art in which I would participate. But there had to be a different mindset. I had to view the desert with different eyes. The time had come for me to view the desert through God’s eyes rather than my own eyes. Maybe we could identify this change of mind as looking on the bright side; or another way some might put it: seeing things in a different light.

Is it possible that this could be one of the greatest solutions to the problem of lacking joy? We hear the command from friends, family, and co-workers all the time, "Just look on the bright side." Many times we just hear it, give a pacifying acknowledgment, and then move on with more dread and a dark mental forecast.

Many in the world can find pleasure out of that desert experience. But their pleasure is so limited because even though they can appreciate such beauty, they have no one to thank for that beauty. Some part of them is very glad, and even perhaps in a way thankful for the beauty. But whom have they to thank if they are looking only to their experience to fulfill their joy? They experience it, then they drive home. However, to the one who recognizes the Designer and one of the chief purposes behind the design, that person can revel in communing with the very Artist who specifically created it for Himself and for His child to enjoy. After God created the heaven and the earth, He created the light that would lighten the creation. For without that light, there could be no color to be seen in the creation:

Genesis 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: God enjoyed the light which He had created. We must think upon this in terms of our appreciation for the creation. Just as the physical light enables us to see the beauty of the creation and enables us to ascertain the diversity of colors—so also when we view the creation in the light of God’s intention and desire for us to enjoy it, it becomes infinitely more valuable to us. We then marvel in a way that the person who merely looks to the creation for pleasure cannot. Truly, the Christian is able to look on the bright side. The Christian is able to see things in a different light. But we must consciously do this with a driving affection to find the beauty of God in what He has created for Himself and for us.

Sometimes finding beauty in the creation can be difficult. The example of my desert experience is a rather grand example of finding joy in creation. But what about the little things in life? After all, most of us do not get to experience vacations throughout the year. And if the only time we find real joy is when the big things happen, then for the vast majority of the year we will be somewhat sorrowful, with the exception of vacation time. In fact, this could be taken to the micro level. Most of us are familiar with the phrase, "living for the weekend." Sadly, this is how many people view life. They view the workweek as the hardship of life that will help pay for the fun they will have on the weekend. Wednesday is called hump day because it marks the middle of that week, and now they are on their way to finishing up the dreaded work so they can live it up on the weekend. Friday night is great. Then Saturday is free. Sunday can be great too. However, for many Christians, they must wake up and go to church. This takes away a good part of their weekend. But they try to make the most of their afternoon—to get in as much as possible before the end of the day. Then it happens. It is bedtime. Reality strikes. They must return to their dismal full-time job. The joy is gone. Back to the same old routine. For believer and unbeliever this is a prevalent reality. To a greater degree on the micro level, it is four hours while longing for lunch; five days while longing for the weekend; fifty weeks while longing for the vacation; and thirty-plus years while longing for retirement. Is there a solution? Is there some way that a person can cast off the monotony of what I like to call full time syndrome? I believe there is a way, but it requires the utmost diligence and disciplined thought. It is hard to contemplate thinking in a disciplined manner when what a person is really wanting is rest from their work.

We must begin at the micro level. If we only seek to find the solution at the macro level, we will only expect joy on the weekends. Some may expect it at vacation time. Some may even only expect it at retirement. But imagine a life where joy was around every corner; at every business meeting; at every grocery store; in every phone call; at every meal; with every drink of water. Imagine if there was joy, a profound joy in every adverse experience. If this really could happen in our lives, and we knew there was a solution to our discouragement, would we all not pay virtually anything to get it? Well, I believe the solution is there, and it is free. But again, it requires some disicipline. How do we find joy in the little things? More importantly, how do we find joy in everything? We can find this joy, but first we must release some baggage.

Some of us have had bad religious experiences. Sometimes in religion there is a false piety in our surrounding that can affect us adversely. That is, sometimes our religious environment can be such that we are taught to not really have joy. Rather, we are taught (in so many words) that sorrow is the lot of life for the Christian—that we are destined, while in this physical life, to suffer hardship and to just wait patiently until death when all will be well. We are taught that this mentality is a godly mentality. Granted, in some environments it may not be so overtly declared, yet the underlying attitude is one of negativity for this life, with our only hope of rest being in physical death. I would like to suggest, yea, adamantly suggest, that the Bible prescribes instruction that is utterly foreign to that type of religious thinking—that in the words of Scripture, God provides the greatest and most certain solution for discouragement. We have already observed that God is our exceeding joy, and that certainly is our foundational premise for this journey out of discouragement. However, again, how do we find joy in the little things? Must we wait for the grand experiences of life such as vacation or retirement to experience joy? Is there a possible way to find joy in virtually everything we experience? Let us look at the smallest things in which we can have joy. Some of these things may seem so trivial to us, and depending upon past experience, we may even feel guilty for experiencing joy in such little things? Why? Because we have learned or even taught ourselves that it is not proper to get too excited over little things. But is it possible that God delights in His children delighting in little things? Once we are willing to forsake any kind of baggage, be it religious, familial, or social baggage that would detract us from finding joy in even the smallest things, this will be our road to recovery—joyful recovery—from the seasons of discouragement that have so occupied our minds.

So what do I mean by "little things?" If I speak of finding joy at the top of one of the peaks in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range in Colorado overlooking the San Luis Valley, one might view that as a "big thing," in which it is easy to find joy because I am away from busy society and the usual problems of the day. However, is it possible that we can find joy in something as little as a fragrance? Consider a soothing fragrance that reminds you of a friend you once knew, or perhaps a family member. I remember when I had a girlfriend who wore a perfume that was just so pleasant to me. She eventually broke off our relationship, but I was so pleased with the smell of her perfume that I bought some for my mother. Eventually I became so used to that smell on my mother that whenever I would smell it in a doctor’s office or a movie theatre, I would immediately be reminded of my dear mother. It was a lovely smell, and even to this day, when I smell that fragrance, it brings me great delight. It is very calming to me. It makes me joyful, for it makes me think of my mother. But can I go so far as to say that this is a godly experience? We cannot go so far as to say that all "joy" is godly. For example one may rejoice in hurting a person or stealing from someone, both of which are explicitly forbidden in Scripture. However, I believe the Scripture teaches that receiving joy from something such as a fragrance is a gift of God and may be confidently and joyfully experienced by the Christian:

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. Obviously both joyful experiences are recommended. Certainly the latter part of the verse is a truly wonderful experience—to receive hearty counsel from a sweet friend. When a kind friend you trust and who has proven himself or herself to be genuine and intent on bringing you health by sound words, gives hearty counsel, it is sweet and brings rejoicing to the heart. So likewise, God is very clear that there are certain smells that can make the heart glad, for those smells are either delightful even though one may never have experienced the smell; or the smell is delightful because it reminds one of some previous enjoyable experience. Here the focus is on perfume or ointment. Driving along Interstate 5 through the heart of California between Stockton and Bakersfield can be an unpleasant experience for some. For there are enormous cattle ranches along that stretch of the highway. However, for someone like me, that particular smell reminds me of a ranch in Sacramento where I used to spend time with a dear friend of mine. On that farm there were many cows and other livestock, which produced all sorts of unique smells, to say the least. However, after spending so much time with my friend at their farm, I began to get used to that smell and associate that smell with my sweet friendship. So whenever I pass by virtually any ranch or farm with cattle, my mind recalls those special times of spending hours with my friend on his farm.

In these experiences of wonderful fragrances or cattle ranches, there is joy that strikes my heart as I either remember special times or people. In these smells I delight in fond memories. And in this delight a certain passage come to mind:

Psalms 94:9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? Even though this verse finds itself within a context of God showing His sovereignty and knowledge in the actions of the wicked, yet we also see that God understands what we experience. In this verse we find God using terms that in theology are called anthropomorphisms. The word anthropomorphism comes from the Greek words anthropos, meaning man, and morphos, meaning change. That is, God conveys what He wants us to know in language we can understand. He changes His infinitely brilliant and transcendent wisdom into communication that mankind is able to comprehend. Of course we know that God is a Spirit. Certainly spirits do not have physical ears and physical eyes. Neither do they have physical noses, yet God uses such metaphors to describe Himself: 2 Samuel 22:16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. And even more anthropomorphic is this passage: 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; {16} to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? Also here: Ephesians 5:1-2 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; {2} And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. Paul uses this language perhaps to also remind the reader of the incense that was offered to God under the Old Testament rituals (Leviticus 16:11-13), and that this incense was a sweet aroma to God and foreshadowed the sweet-smelling sacrifice of Christ. God clearly wants His children to understand what preaching the Gospel and the sacrifice of Christ mean to Him. He delights in those "fragrances." So certainly God understands what we smell. God understands that we delight in certain smells, which is why He, through Solomon, penned the Proverb that perfume rejoices the heart. God knows this, and God specifically created perfumes for us to enjoy. And that is the key, and will be the key throughout this book: namely, finding those things that God has created and enjoying them for the purpose for which God has created them, and ultimately that is to remind us of Himself. Remember, it is when we are able to understand the purpose for God creating something such as a sweet fragrance, i.e. for His glory and our joy, that we are able to experience above and beyond what someone who disregards God can experience. We are able to actually enjoy not only the fragrance, but we can rejoice in the Creator of the fragrance and rejoice in the reasons for Him creating the fragrance. Thus, we not only enjoy the wonderful physical satisfaction of the fragrance, but we also enjoy the compounded satisfaction of the spiritual experience of thanksgiving and communion with the One who created the fragrance. Truly, fragrances are what many would identify as "little things." But as we have seen, these "little things" can turn into a reminder for us to commune with the Creator and understand why He created fragrances.

Let’s take what some would consider a little thing to a different level. Consider a husband/father whose greatest joy is to come home and experience the thrill and pleasure of romancing his wife. Consider the warmth he finds in holding their new baby in his arms. But every three to six months his job requires him to be away on business trips, sometimes for as much as two weeks per trip. Upon his arrival to the hotel each night, he recalls the sweet fragrance of the perfume that he is so accustomed to smelling each day on his beautiful wife. He also recalls the smell of the baby’s breath and skin. Imagine the emotion and longing he feels while being separated from them. Though there is a sense of great joy while thinking of them, yet there is also a tremendous void in his life. But then as he walks through the front door upon finishing his trip, those smells that had been missing are suddenly back in his life. They are a part of the joy he has experienced for so long. Mere smells have a radical impact on this man’s life.

Again, sometimes the little things are not so little within the ultimate context of life and satisfaction. And with these little things we are able to also delight in the Giver of those little things and enjoy the sweet communion of thanksgiving to Him for setting such little things in our lives. What was previously perceived as a little thing has now turned into the greatest objective of mankind, and that is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That is, "in everything give thanks," and again:

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Joy in a Glass of Water

Pursuing this goal of getting joy out of little things, let us consider such an experience as longing for a glass of water. In my own life, I can recall those times in my physical education classes where I was striving to achieve the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. One of the events was the mile run. It was my goal to run it under six minutes. Now for some people this is not a tough thing to do. But for a guy in high school who did not get a whole lot of cardiovascular exercise, this was a difficult task. I remember the excruciating pain of that last quarter-mile around the track and just aching to cross the finish line. With every ounce of strength, I pushed myself to my limit, striving with all my might and sweat to break the six-minute time. Then it would happen. I would cross the finish line and labor to get as much oxygen as I possibly could with each breath. As I would catch my breath I saw the drinking fountain at the side of the track. My greatest objective at that point in time (which felt like my greatest objective in life) was to simply dive into that drinking fountain. While approaching this fountain, I could almost imagine it turning into this huge spring of cool water coming out of the side of a snow-covered mountain. Well, the experience of finally taking my first gulp was almost that. My thirst and the dryness of my mouth was finally quenched. Drinking cool water at such a time brought incredible relief to me. In fact, I would have no problem whatsoever identifying that extreme satisfaction as great joy and delight. It is doubtful that anyone could object to calling this experience joyful. We certainly would not call it a bother. The question is, was I able to experience the joy of which we are speaking? Well, perhaps not at that particular time in life. But are we able to have that mindset now that we are Christians? Are we, with every glass of water we drink, able to experience joy and gladness at such an experience? I believe we can. However, we must consciously focus on what we are doing, its benefits, and the fact that a mere glass of water is to be recognized as an amazing gift of God.

I would attempt to find this joy by first being thankful. Just thanking God for something so seemingly small as a glass of water. And in that thankfulness I would ponder the fact that from all eternity God planned to satisfy my thirst at that point in time with a glass of water. It was God’s specific design and intention to utilize all the circumstances surrounding my glass of water to bring me to that exact point of delighting in this gift that would make thanksgiving to Him rise to the forefront of my mind. This might come across as man-centered thinking, however, when we consider the ultimate goal of glorifying God and thanking him for such gifts, it is evident that the result of such an experience would be theocentric, or God-centered.

One of the other things we can practice is recalling certain Scriptures that we have read that have to do with our experience. Some of the first Scriptures that come to my mind while considering a glass of water are those that have to do with the springs of living water in Christ. For example, consider the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus approaches this woman at Jacob’s well and asks her for a drink. She, being a Samaritan, understood that the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" (vs.9). And yet here, Christ, with specific intention, asks her for a drink of water. We can see this intention initiated in verse 4:

John 4:4 But he had to go through Samaria. We would think that in Samaria there would be some enormous proclamation of the Gospel and the kingdom of God, and that, like Jerusalem, there would be much upheaval concerning Jesus Christ and His message. That would seem to be enough reason for Christ to go through Samaria. Instead we find that the only thing that happened was this conversation with the Samaritan woman. Didn’t Christ have other more important things to accomplish? Obviously Christ viewed this conversation with this woman as not only important enough to go to the city; He also viewed it as important enough to take up nearly a whole chapter in the Gospel of John. Sometimes we have a tendency to focus only on the fact that Christ has concern for the church as a corporate entity. This is true, no doubt. However, Christ has detailed and definitive concern for individuals within that church as well. And at Jacob’s well we see this intention of Christ to meet this woman and satisfy that which was lacking in her life, and that was, living water. She had sought her pleasure through the temporal joy of men. In fact Jesus spoke directly of her having had five husbands and that the one with whom she was now residing was not her husband (John 4:18). But even greater than that revelation was the fact that Christ declared to this woman that the water she was attempting to draw out of Jacob’s well would not permanently satisfy her thirst. Considering her pursuit of temporal pleasure in men, the temporal satisfaction of the water that would be drawn from Jacob’s well seems to be a correlating metaphor. We are not dealing with the problem so many Jews had, and that was believing themselves to be righteous because of their obedience to the law of Moses. Rather, we are dealing with someone the Jews considered a dog (Matthew 15:26-27)—someone who was given to sexual pleasure and who found her identity in being loved by men. But Christ in His deep compassion saw her need for something to quench the real thirst she had. She had no life. She was thirsting and desperately in need of living water. Christ gives her the great hope of eternal life: John 4:10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." But she still did not understand Christ’s intention. Her mind was still affected by her pursuit of temporal satisfaction. This is evident in her response: John 4:11-12 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? {12} Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" In His patience and love for this woman, Jesus replies: John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, {14} but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." Our first thought might be: Certainly this woman will now understand the water to which Christ is referring, and that He is that water of life. But on the contrary, she, like all of us when we were in sin, is blinded to her need of Christ as the living water. Her response: John 4:15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water." At this point Jesus could have walked away and responded, "Woman, you just do not get it, and you will never get it, will you? All you can think about is temporal satisfaction. You keep thinking of physical fulfillment. Fine, you just keep searching for meaning in life. You just keep going from one man to the next in pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment. I will go to the next town and give my living water to them." Perhaps that is the mentality many of us would have. But Christ pursues His intention, and that intention was the give this woman life. Christ doesn’t fail in this intention, for He says in another place: John 5:21 Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. Yes, Christ could have rejected her. But He knew His motive in going to Samaria. He had a motive to give this adulterous woman something all of her men could not give her. Christ had a motive to give her what Jacob’s well could not give her. Christ’s motive was to give her the joy of gushing fountains of living water. But His message did not just stop with a proclamation of Himself as the living water. He first had to open her blind eyes to see her sin and the vain and empty pursuits of her life and attempts to satisfy herself with men and pleasure. Christ then declares to her the problem. She is confronted with the living God and realizes her need and then proceeds to deliver that message to her city. She understood that the Christ had come: John 4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? What Christ had done to this woman was open her understanding to her sin, her problem, her need, and the solution. Christ could have given merely the solution. But Christ wanted this woman to see her need. How could she possibly appreciate what He had to give unless He first explained why she needed it. This woman not only had a need, she could not even see her need. In this the love and longsuffering of Christ is evident. Christ spoke of those who could not see their need: Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

Whether the problem is that of self-righteousness or pursuing the emptiness of temporal pleasure, the problem is one of desperate need: Not only the need to have our sin revealed to us, but the need to have that which can give a joy that the world cannot give. Through the living water of Christ, this woman was given a joy that none of her relationships with men could offer. There is no great message to proclaim in having found temporal satisfaction in many relationships. But at last, this woman found an eternal satisfaction—a message that was worthy to be proclaimed to everyone she knew. The well of Jacob from which this woman would draw water was a well that could not provide an everlasting joy. But Christ fulfilled that well of life predicted in the Old Testament: Isaiah 12:1-4 You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. {2} Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. {3} With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. {4} And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. The woman at the well experienced this salvation. She finally was able to draw water from the wells of salvation, the living water of Jesus Christ. But notice that the passage says "with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." She experienced a joy that no man could give her. She experienced a quenching of thirst that no earthly well could give her. She proclaimed this message to her city. Even in this passage in Isaiah that seems to be the result of such joy: "And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted." This woman proclaimed called upon the name of Christ, thanked Him, and ultimately made known His deeds and declared His exalted name.

So then, when we consider that incredible thirst we might have after running hard, and how that glass of water—that mere glass of water—can provide such delightful satisfaction to us, may we also consider the fact that we once were running hard in the pursuit of empty pleasure, labor, and fulfillment—whether in the worldly arena or in the arena of self-righteousness—until that day Christ met us to give us the joy of living waters gushing up into everlasting life. This is certainly how we can find joy in the little thing of a glass of water.

Joy in Work

As previously mentioned, something virtually all people experience is discouragement from having to work. Whether you are a man who lays concrete for 8-10 hours a day; a housewife who labors in raising children; or a teenager at home who has chores and homework to do, you will experience times of weariness over having to work. This is especially true when we consider the extent to which most of will have to work for a good portion of our lives. The teenager considers his or her time completing high school and the labor that involves. Then after high school the student ponders four-plus years of college. And then if he or she desires to get a higher paying position, the student must pursue even further education toward a masters degree or a doctorate. So all of those thoughts and years of schooling can be a heavy burden on the student’s mind. What about the concrete worker with a wife and two children at home? He realizes that very likely he must do this same exhausting work possibly until retirement. At age 30 this can be a very depressing outlook: The same old routine—waking up early; working hard all day; perhaps a couple of hours with the wife and kids at home; and then he is so tired that eight-o’clock seems to be the perfect bed time. The reality that this is his lot in life for the next 20-30 years does not seem too hopeful. What about his wife, who must raise the children over the course of seventeen-plus years? She realizes there are not a lot of options for her. Suddenly her life experience consists of changing diapers, cooking the meals, cleaning the house and a host of other duties she must perform in the home. Are all of these gleeful experiences?

Sadly we live in a society where TV has penetrated the home and portrays the lifestyles of the rich and famous as they experience yachting, cruises, traveling, fine dining, and high society. In fact many see this so often that it appears that this is the norm and that all of us should be experiencing the same thing. With only two to four hours a day with the family after the day’s work is done, perhaps we should consider at least two things: 1) spending more time with the family rather than watching television; 2) not exposing ourselves to programs that tend to shape our thoughts concerning what we are supposedly lacking (i.e. fame and fortune).

So then, is there a solution to this apparently empty life of long and laborious hours? I believe there is. Solomon was a man in the Bible who had everything his heart could desire. The Bible describes him this way:

2 Chronicles 1:12 Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Ecclesiastes 2:3-10 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. {4} I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: {5} I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: {6} I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: {7} I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: {8} I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. {9} So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. {10} And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.

Here is a man with riches untold and who pursued and overtook every pleasure in life. And it even appears that in the work he did he was able to rejoice. But after all this Solomon concludes: Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Solomon described this vanity with even greater detail: Ecclesiastes 2:15-23 Then I said to myself, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been so very wise?" And I said to myself that this also is vanity. {16} For there is no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How can the wise die just like fools? {17} So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind. {18} I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me {19} --and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. {20} So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, {21} because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. {22} What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? {23} For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity. Solomon ultimately grew to hate his labor. As rich and famous as he was; with all the desires of his heart accomplished, he nevertheless "hated life." Some might think that the problem Solomon had was his riches or maybe his wisdom. However, there really is not much to support this view. Actually Solomon’s problem seems to be evident: Solomon says "I sought in mine heart to give myself unto..." He then proceeded to list the things to which he searched in his mind to give himself. That is, he poured all of his mental faculties to becoming addicted to wine, work, wisdom, gardening, pools, possessions, and "whatsoever mine eyes desired." He gave himself to everything in creation. He addicted himself to everything but the Creator. Hence, Solomon hated life. The labor he initially enjoyed became despised and hated in his sight. He was unable to experience joy. Every joy he received ended in despair and, as Solomon describes, "vanity and grasping for the wind"—a hopeless scenario. The joys he experienced fled from him, much like how Solomon described what riches would do upon being pursued: Proverbs 23:5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Certainly the satisfaction Solomon received from riches, possessions, servants etc. made wings and flew away from him to the point of him hating life. How true this is for so many today. Mankind has not changed. His heart still gravitates toward material things to give him pleasure. He still is naturally inclined to set his heart upon the creation rather than the Creator. We have a tendency to think that a certain form of employment will give us that contentment we need to continue that employment until retirement. Solomon tried that and ended up identifying his pursuits as vanity.

In the end, however, Solomon realized how to enjoy his labor:

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. From the beginning Solomon gave his heart to the creation. He sought selfish ambition, and the joy he experienced was a joy that was accomplished by Solomon’s own efforts and for his own glory. But he finally was able to see that there would be no enjoyment until he recognized that all his food, drink, and labor, and the results of that labor were from the hand of God. Paul echoed this thought: 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Isaiah spoke of work similarly: Isaiah 26:12 O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us. Of course the latter passage is referring specifically to salvation from sin and obedience to God. But the idea is the same: labor and the end result comes from the hand of God, and until we come to this recognition, there will be no joy in our labor or the fruit of our labor.

But we must not miss a very important point. Solomon emphasizes something crucial: "There is nothing better...that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor." We must look to the end result of our work and know that it is a wonderful thing, yea, "nothing better" than to enjoy our work and the fruits thereof. When we see that the hand of God has provided our work and the result and we constantly affirm that provision, we can, without guilt, enjoy what comes from our hard work. Whether it is a new car, food on the table, wine, paying off a mortgage, or simply having a night on the town, there is nothing better for us than to rejoice that it all comes from the hand of God. This will then turn our hearts to thanksgiving. Even under the Old Covenant, during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Israelites would eat what they had gathered of their corn and wine for seven days, God said:

Deuteronomy 16:15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. Notice that the rejoicing is because God blessed them in their increase. Though they worked with their hands, it was God who worked in them, therefore they would surely rejoice because all thanks and glory would be to God and not to themselves. The kind of joy that exalts itself for what it has done is a fading joy. But the joy that exalts God for what He has done is a joy that lasts and has a solid foundation. One joy worships and serves the creation. The other joy worships and serves the Creator. The joy that fades is the joy that worships and serves the creation: Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Paul further describes these: Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Three fundamental characteristics of those who pursue temporal joy: they do not glorify God; they are not thankful; and they worship the creature more than the Creator. But on the contrary, those who pursue lasting joy glorify God, are thankful, and they worship the Creator of their works and the resulting fruit of those works.

Beyond this, how do we appreciate and receive joy from a menial task at work such as answering a phone, digging a ditch, or serving a glass of wine? It is a matter of mindset and exercising profound thinking regarding that task. In answering a phone, do I consider the fact that God has blessed me with the ability to talk with a dear friend with this means of communication? Do I express my thankfulness that I have been given ears to hear not only the voice at the other end of the line, but also that I have been given spiritual ears to hear the good news of Christ crucified? In digging a ditch will I remember the foundation upon which the church is built, namely, Jesus Christ, and that His foundation will never be shaken and thus I am secure in Him forever? In serving a glass of wine will I remember the new wine that Christ mentions (Luke 5:37-39) in relation to the New Covenant in His blood? Those may sound like very basic examples, but if we are to pursue joy in everything we do and experience, this type of thinking must be applied. And as individuals we must find that experience or passage that will incline our minds to delighting in the task at hand. Sometimes it will be applying what we have learned from someone else who performs the same task. Other times it will be applying what God has impressed upon our own heart to enjoy the same task.

In regard to work and joy, something we should remember is that work and labor shows a type of something far greater. Remember the example of the drink of water and how that showed the greater reality of Christ as the living water quenching our spiritual thirst. And when we contemplate that, we are able to rejoice in something so seemingly small as a drink of water. Likewise, with work we should remember an enormous element the word of God emphasizes, and that is rest from labor.

Joy in Rest

We touched briefly on the results of our labor and rejoicing in that. It seems fitting that we can also find great delight in experiencing joy in our rest. As we trudge through the work day we must have not only goals in our work, but also we must have the ultimate goal of finishing our workday. Even the unthankful use these thoughts in eagerly anticipating the end of the day, and certainly the end of the week. But how, while we are working or in our rest, do we find joy that reaches an entirely superior level to that which the unthankful experience? First, our minds should always be cognizant of the fact that we must rid ourselves of guilt for experiencing joy when our joy is founded upon God. Second, there should be in us a mind that ever searches for thoughts of how whatever joy we are experiencing can relate to the word of God. For example, with rest how can we experience a joy beyond that which unbelievers experience? When we think of rest, many of us picture ourselves in a bed with our eyes closed. I personally have never met someone who does not love to lie down on a bed after a hard day and just relax. It is so pleasant to simply forget the exertions of the day and meditate on not doing anything. But even rest can turn to restlessness. Consider how many people struggle with insomnia. Sometimes no matter how exhausted the body is, the mind can continue its anxiety while pondering events of the day, pressing circumstances, trouble with colleagues, family, financial problems etc. I have found that one of the greatest ways to insure rest is to recall what God’s word says about rest and then relate it to my own situation.

One of the most well-known passages dealing with rest is found in Matthew:

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. As with all passages it is imperative that we find the primary intent of the passage and then find the primary application for us, and finally find the secondary application to us. That is, when examining a text we must consider the audience and the issue that concerns them. After having found that primary intent for the original audience, we then search for the primary intent for us. Finally we search for the secondary intent for us. First, Jesus is speaking primarily to Israelites. The term rest had a deep-rooted history for the Israelites. They were in bondage in Egypt under the reign of King Pharaoh for over four hundred years before Moses led them out of Egypt. Eventually God would give them rest forty years later when He would bring them into the promised land through the leadership of Joshua: Joshua 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. This rest was out of the hard labor the Israelites endured under the hand of Pharaoh: Exodus 6:6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: The Israelites would later experience hard labor under the hand of the King of Babylon during the Babylonian captivity, from which labor God would give them rest: Isaiah 14:3-4 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve. {4} That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! So the term rest would strike a familiar chord with those Israelites who heard Jesus use the word. But how then was Jesus using the term? First, though God clearly declares that there was a rest that He had given the Israelites, it was not the rest of which Jesus spoke. Interestingly the writer of Hebrews actually seems to contradict the confirmation that God gave the Israelites rest through Joshua: Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. Yet God clearly said: Joshua 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. So then it is apparent that the rest of Hebrews was a different kind of rest. It was not a rest of physically dwelling in a material land that God promised. Rather, it would be a rest of which Jesus spoke. Jesus spoke of peace differently than the world speaks of peace: John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Therefore it should not be any wonder that the rest of which He spoke was not that which the world offers. Light is shed on this idea when we consider the rest of the passage in Matthew concerning rest: Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. The book of Hebrews is a letter or sermon primarily directed toward Israelites who had made a profession of trusting in Jesus Christ, but who were returning to trusting in their works for salvation from their sins and not trusting only in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins. They trusted in themselves to remove their own burden of sin rather than trusting Christ to carry the burden of their sin. They would not admit that the burden of their sin was too heavy for them. David recognized this burden: Psalms 38:3-4 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. {4} For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. Imagine David in the sea after his boat has capsized. The boat has sunk to bottom of the sea and David must keep himself afloat. For hours he struggles to keep his head above water, turning and paddling in every way possible, so as to not exert too much energy. But alas, his head sinks just a little too far and he inhales a gulp of water. He chokes trying desperately to expel the water from his lungs. To no avail he flails frantically, while attempting not only to stop choking but to breathe as well. He strives for his final gasp of air and falls below the surface. This is the picture David is painting. He is in an ocean of sin, hopelessly working, striving to stay above his sin. He desperately tries to obey God’s law, only to find himself miserably failing. Paul describes this condition of those Israelites who were attempting to work their way into favor with God: Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law."

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The law (or Old Testament commands) served one purpose: It showed Israel as those who had disobeyed God. It was the law that revealed them to be transgressors or breakers of that very law. Yet Israel was using that law unlawfully: she was trying to justify herself with that law rather than recognizing as David did that her sins were over her head. Her sins were too heavy for her. She was working and working but only to choke on and paddle aimlessly in her own sin. Hebrews addresses this futile work and yet affirms that the one who believes in Jesus Christ has entered into rest: Hebrews 4:10 for those who enter God's rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. In fact, the writer gives the example of creation to prove this point. He establishes that God worked for six days in the creation, and on the seventh day He rested. That seventh day of God’s rest represents our rest from the burden of our sin when we place our faith in Jesus Christ to take away our sin. Jesus proclaimed: Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Just as God alone gave the Israelites rest from the burden and hard labor or Egypt, so also God gives us rest from the burden and hard labor of attempting to swim our way past our sin. Our sins, as David’s were, are too heavy for us. We cannot remove them. We cannot pay for them. No matter how hard we try and work, we will never be able to undo the heavy burden of our sin. We must recognize our inability to carry them and place all of our faith in the sacrifice of Christ to remove our sins. It is at this point that God gives us rest. The writer of Hebrews reminded the Israelites of this: Hebrews 3:8-11 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: {9} When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. {10} Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. {11} So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. In the wilderness the Israelites doubted God and trusted in themselves and other gods to deliver them. God said: Hebrews 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? Those who did not enter into that physical promised land were those who continued trusting in their self-efforts and other methods rather than relying upon God’s grace to bring them into the land.

David observed that true rest was the result of God bestowing grace upon him and working in him:

Psalms 116:5-8 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. {6} The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. {7} Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. {8} For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. David here not only ascribes grace, righteousness, and mercy to the Lord. He also encourages himself to rest because of the Lord’s bountiful dealing with him. Truly David trusted the Lord to save him. But we must remember that even though so many of David’s Psalms have prophetic implication and primary reference to the time when Messiah would come to save His people, yet we also must remember that there is an application not only for David’s walk as well as our walk. So not only Does the passage have a primary application for David and us in regard to salvation, it also has a secondary application as well. God does not just save us from our fears of not being able to save ourselves, but God also is the one who gives us rest from our daily work and strife. But in order to appreciate that it was first necessary to identify the correlation. That is, we needed to show the emphasis placed on rest in the Scripture. When we do that, we are able to step to the next level that the unbeliever can never reach while in unbelief, and that is the level of thankfulness to the Giver of rest and for the eternal rest we have in Christ. Consider this passage dealing with rest or sleep: Proverbs 3:24 When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Again, this has a primary application of the blessings of what it means to be in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. However, it is comforting to remember this covenant when we too are anticipating or experiencing rest from our daily labor. Too often we do not focus on these aspects of rest. This is probably one of the greatest reasons we suffer from insomnia and certainly a lack of satisfaction from the rest that we experience. Our minds have a tendency to be preoccupied with anxious thoughts rather than on the peace and rest that God has given us. Once we experience this rest, this will in turn contribute to a time of greater energy when morning does come and it is time to go to the workplace again.

This may seem elementary, or perhaps it seems impossible. But if we fasten our minds to thoughts that have purpose and intention as we seek for true and lasting joy, we will be able to revel in the very joy God delights in giving us as it pertains to work and rest.

Joy in a Wise Child

Related to the issue of rest, here is a passage packed with deep insight:

Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you rest; they will give delight to your heart. Perhaps those who are parents will especially glean some very pertinent truths from this section. In our previous section we did not examine those verses which speak of a woman travailing until the time when she would give birth. Jesus describes it this way: John 16:21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. Though the work is tremendously strenuous and painful, yet the end result of that labor is joy. But then when that result is brought into the world, great care must be taken to insure that the joy of having that child remains. For example: Proverbs 23:24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. It is amazing how joy and rest are associated with the upbringing of a wise child: Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you rest; they will give delight to your heart. Rest, delight and joy are the results of raising a wise child. But how are we to rejoice in a wise child unless we raise the child to be wise? One of the surest ways to enjoy rest while raising a child is to correct or discipline the child. Some may wonder what this correction involves. This is where we really test whether we trust the word of God to be authoritative and truthful and helpful in everyday life. In fact, to be straightforward, the word of God encourages spanking, and that this spanking will give parents rest. When a parent disciplines a child it brings rest to the parents. Consider these other verses that proclaim that not only does it give rest to the parents, but also health to the child: Proverbs 10:13 On the lips of one who has understanding wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of one who lacks sense.
Proverbs 13:24 Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.
Notice the contrast: sparing the rod versus diligence to discipline them. This verse assures not only the meaning of the word discipline, but it also assures the parents that in disciplining (spanking) their children, they are showing their children and God that they do not hate them. Why? By refraining from spanking the child the parent is allowing the child to behave as he or she pleases. This will bring unrest to the family and also those who come into contact with the child. It also will bring shame to the parents: Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by a neglected child. Neglect is inherently defined in this passage: a child that is not spanked is considered neglected. In other words, spanking shows that the parents are devoted enough to their child’s behavior and their own rest that they are willing to administer the rod to their child. Many parents today wonder why they have no rest. Instead of faithfully spanking their child they substitute such things as time-outs, yelling, grounding etc. If those were the means that would correct the child, then certainly God would have provided that instruction. Measures such as yelling simply produce more anger, anxiety, and unrest in both the child and the parent. Yelling will never accomplish what the faithful correction of spanking accomplishes. The faithful parent exercises self-control by being willing to spank instead of yelling. Yelling is simply an outburst showing the parent's unrest and lack of self-control. Ultimately yelling raises the tension level in the home and often leads to physical abuse because it does not accomplish the obedience and wisdom that is desired in the child. Generally yelling takes place after a first and second and third, etc. admonition. The child then realizes he or she can manipulate the parents to a certain degree before the parent responds. This is how abuse is bred. The continued disobedience of the child to multiple admonitions infuriates the parents. However, prompt spanking after the first admonition eliminates that tension by correcting the child and taking the place of yelling and a lack of self-control. Yelling simply contributes to unrest, manipulation of the parents by the child, and then abuse of the child by the parents because of the anger that builds in the parents. But God gives the instruction of spanking. Why? So the parents will have rest and the children will not bring their parents to shame. Shame is not rest. Shame is disgrace. When parents are not faithful to spank their children, then they will not have rest. Their lives will be in turmoil because they allow their child to act as the child's natural tendency dictates. When parents choose to yell, this simply adds to the unrest in both the parent and the child. The child then learns to yell as well.

We must ask the question? Does foolishness in the heart of a child bring rest to the parents? Of course not. More and more parents are simply trying to talk their child out of their foolishness, but God’s word prescribes the greatest advice to remove foolishness from a child:

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. This is a sure promise that will bring joy and rest in the parents' lives as will as the child's life.

Finally, and more importantly in this subject of spanking giving rest, is the reality that the death of a child does not bring rest to the parents either:

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. {14} If you beat them with the rod, you will save their lives from Sheol (the grave). Just for clarification, the word beat is the equivalent of our word spanking. But the message is very clear: there is a far greater likelihood of a child dying as a result of the parents withholding the rod than if they faithfully administer the rod.

Though the above section may seem like a lesson in child rearing (and perhaps it is to certain parents), nevertheless the intent is for parents to do those things that give rest so that we may thank God for that rest. We must always ask, how can my mind enjoy rest? How can I thank God for rest if rest is not there? Am I faithfully pursuing rest in all areas of my life? Is it possible that I am uptight and anxious because I am not disciplining my child? Do I wonder why my child acts the way he or she does, and do I try to excuse the child as different or a problem child? Or do I recognize that human nature is the same and that disobedience in a child demands correction and spanking according to the word of God? Am I willing to forsake my intuition and psychological advice if it contradicts the word of God in order that I might be certain that rest and joy will be brought to my family? We must also ask these questions: Does God want me to rest? If so, would He not prescribe those things that would surely give me rest if I would only apply them? When we begin to ponder the love of God for us, it is far more evident that He is deeply concerned for our rest and would not give us faulty information in accomplishing that rest. And upon heeding that information and being diligent in our minds to accomplish those tasks He prescribes as the Great Physician, we will ultimately experience that rest which is so essential to living without anxiety and tension. Ultimately this proper implementation of the word of God in raising a wise child will bring joy:

Proverbs 10:1 The proverbs of Solomon. A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother's grief.
Proverbs 15:20 A wise child makes a glad father, but the foolish despise their mothers.
Through discipline and correction, the child will be wise, and as a result the child will make glad parents instead of despising them and giving them grief and unrest: Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you rest; they will give delight to your heart. Thus, joy and rest are brought into the home and we are then able to look to the Great Physician with abundant thanksgiving for not only prescribing the methods so imperative for bringing joy, but also for actually fulfilling that joy as a result of our heeding His advice.

While contemplating the joy and rest that correction gives not only to the parents but the children as well, let us then in our pursuit of joy consider our own personal relationship to the Father. Can we see the Father applying this same essential corrective measure in order to give us joy? The book of Hebrews elucidates the Father’s love for His children while doing what is necessary to bring joy into their lives:

Hebrews 12:5-13 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children-- "My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; {6} for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts." {7} Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? {8} If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. {9} Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? {10} For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. {11} Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. {12} Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, {13} and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. We should take great delight in knowing that we are not illegitimate children. We should also take great delight in knowing that through the correction that the Father gives, we will be given the peaceful fruit of righteousness by that training, which ultimately will lead to our healing. The writer asks the rhetorical question: "What child is there whom a parent does not discipline?" In other words, is there really such a child whose parent will not discipline that child? Likewise, with the Father, which of His children is so neglected in not receiving discipline? The answer is that such a child does not exist, for it is the Father’s great delight to correct us, that we might experience the joy of His love. He corrects us so that we may experience His healing.

So then, in parenting and in discipline we should be reminded that not only will the discipline a parent gives bring joy to both the child and the parent, but also the discipline that the heavenly Father gives will bring joy to both Himself and His children, as His children walk in ways that are pleasing to Him.

Joy in the Little Things?

You might think that the things mentioned above are not really little things. Actually, that is quite true. They are enormous things. From a glass of water to a spanking, we have seen that both are absolutely essential to joy and life. Things which, upon first consideration, appeared to be somewhat trivial in relation to joy actually end in being incredibly vital for experiencing delight in life. Of course the purpose of this section is to help unfold a world of priceless treasures to be found in the little things of life, and that these little things, upon greater thought and appreciation, turn out to be those very things that contribute to experiencing enormous joy in life. The greatest reason for our being able to experience this joy is because of the foundation of trust we have in the God who supplies this joy. The unbeliever must stop with the initial experience of the glass of water. The unbeliever cannot reach into the profound element of thanksgiving and dependence upon God for a wonderful magnification of the effects, and symbolism, of a mere glass of water. That is one of the many glorious blessings of life in Christ: being able to find great joy in the little things.

Ward Fenley