I have not written in a while. A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with severe carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my hands. I have undergone surgery on my right hand, and, thanks to God, it is healing quite well. My condition has been painful and sometimes frustrating. But it has also been a reminder of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. God is not faithful because we are faithful; God is faithful because He is faithful. Like many of you, I have suffered financial crises and setbacks from COVID-19. But God promised that trouble would not last forever. Joy will come. God gives us beauty for ashes. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Friends, if you trust God, your situation will change for the better.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”2 Corinthians 4:17
We must not misunderstand this principle by thinking that a Christian can live any way he or she pleases and expect everything to turn into glory in the end. God can and does turn suffering into glory. However, He cannot turn sin into glory. Sin must be judged because there is no glory in sin. Jesus has judged our sin, and our heavenly Father has declared us righteous in Him.
For He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.2 Corinthians 5:21
God Uses Pain and Affliction to Build Strength and Character
In May of 2004, I lost one of my sons to gun violence. In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina inundated my home city of New Orleans. My wife and I survived five days on the roof of an elementary school in Uptown, New Orleans. We lost all of our possessions to the storm, so we relocated to Fort Worth, Texas.
One Sunday morning in 2007, I was awakened by a horrible pain in my chest. There are lots of tornadoes in Texas so my first thought was that a tornado touched down and the house had collapsed on me. Instinctively, I pushed up to free myself, but there was nothing there. When I opened my eyes I knew then that something was wrong. My wife called my son, who lived close by in Arlington, Texas. He rushed me to Arlington Memorial Hospital. I had experienced a massive heart attack.
When God said, “Trouble will not last,” I believed Him. However, while I endured these things I felt hopeless, as though the world was ending. I thought to myself, “Where is the joy of the Lord that God promised me?” But even in my despair, I made the conscious decision to believe God, rather than believe my circumstances.
Today, I have a different outlook on life. I have learned to “count it all joy when I fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). God does not afflict us with pain, nor does He afflict us with sickness like COVID-19. The devil does that. But what the devil means for evil, God turns around for good. Friends, I want you to know trouble won’t last always. In the morning, look for joy with anticipation, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Beauty for Ashes
I am sure you have seen your share of bad days. You may even be having a bad day right now. But you cannot give up on life, and whatever you do, do not give up on God because you are having a bad day. Bad days come and go. Rest assured that trouble will not last, so look for joy in the morning.
COVID-19 has been a troublesome inconvenience for everyone. It has hindered our personal plans, church worship services, family celebrations, and our social life. The virus has also left a trail of grief and death in its shadow. To date, the COVID-19 virus has claimed the lives of more than 330 thousand Americans, leaving many families to grieve and mourn for their loved ones.
God promised to give you beauty for your ashes, joy for your mourning, praise for your heavy heart. But it is an exchange. The problem is we want to hold on to our ashes while we mourn. Because we were offended, we want to keep our heavy hearts. Why is this? It gives the natural part of us a reason to have pity parties and seek revenge on the person or persons who hurt us. Don’t let trouble doom you to an existence of misery. If someone offends you, don’t seek revenge. Give the hurt to God instead.
Let Go of Your Stress
The COVID-19 pandemic has added stress to our lives. This stress is the ashes that burden us down. Let go of the ashes and receive the beauty that God has promised you. Then exchange your mourning for the oil of joy. Lastly, begin to praise God when your heart is heavy with grief. When you do these things, God is glorified and you are justified.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.Isaiah 61:3
Weeping May Last for a Night but Joy Comes in the Morning
Racism, hatred, violence, and division are seeds that the enemy has sown in our hearts. But Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Friends, your tears are precious to God. You might be sowing tears of sorrow and sadness today, but when you put your trust in God, He will give you a harvest of joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Weeping May Last for a Night, but Joy Comes in the Morning.