From Jams to Joy


Tuesday, January 9, 2017

Psalm 126:1-6 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 4  Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! 5  Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

It’s human nature, I guess. We have a seemingly irresistible drive to be preoccupied with problems. We are captivated by our circumstances. We fixate on our failures. We illuminate our issues. We tarry in our tears. We wallow in our weeping. We remember the hurts far longer than the happiness. Yet God has promised that in every jam He will give joy, and in every pain, He will provide peace.

I found this poetic prayer that makes the point of today’s Psalm.


Lord of the compost heap

you take garbage

and turn it into soil

good soil

for seeds to root

and grow

with wildest increase

flowers to bloom

with brilliant beauty.

Take all the garbage

of my life

Lord of the compost heap

turn it into soil

good soil

and then plant seeds

to bring forth

fruit and beauty

in profusion.

I don’t know how to express the overwhelming sense of excitement I experience as I read this 126th Psalm. It applies to so many areas of my life and my ministry. I know it must apply to your life as well. It helps me to realize how guilty I am of focusing on the problems and the stresses of life rather than the joy of the Lord. The promises of this Psalm are magnificent and fill my heart with songs of hope. They renew my strength. They fill me with joy. The Lord has done great things for us! He is about to do more!

Carole Mayhall, writing in Today’s Christian Woman magazine, brings home the point.

I squirmed a bit as I forced myself to listen to my friend cataloging her problems. After three hours, I interrupted her gently to ask, “If you were to draw a circle to represent your life, what would be in the center?

She thought a moment, then said, “My problems.” My friend spoke the truth.

A week later, I sat across the hospital bed on which lay my younger sister, Joye, who had just been diagnosed with acute leukemia. Gray and perspiring, with a swath of bandages encasing her throat from a biopsy, Joye talked to a student nurse who was interviewing terminally ill people to see if there was any way she could help them.

“Oh, Jan, I’m a bit fearful of the pain and process of dying—but I’m not afraid of death! It’ll just be a change of residence for me,” I heard my sister, her face radiant from within, say to this student nurse. And for forty-five minutes, Joye explained the good news of Jesus Christ to Jan.

Afterward, I thought, both my friend and sister have serious problems. Yet one’s walking in despair, and the other in joy. What makes the difference?

Then I realized what it was. My friend’s heart was occupied with her problems; my sister’s heart was occupied with the Living God.

It’s our choice – be preoccupied with our problems, or present them to God who will turn jams into joy.

I choose joy!

Pastor John

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