Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joy in the Face of Difficulty

Luk 10:1-3  After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.  Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.........
Luk 10:17-24  The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."  At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it

Luke is writing this story approximately 30 years after Jesus. While his audience is primarily Greek speaking, the heartache of all who followed this Jewish rabbi is evident: Judea was still under Roman occupation; it was Rome that gave permission to deviate from Roman forms of worship; and all travel was subject to Roman scrutiny. Luke writes to Jesus-believers, reminding them to continue to be faithful, even though the advent of Jesus had not improved their lives economically or politically.
The key word used is “Joy”.  “The seventy returned with Joy” (Lk 10: 17);  “Rejoice” (Lk 10:20); “Jesus rejoiced” (Lk 10:21); “Blessed (happy) are the eyes...” (Lk 10:23).  Luke reminds his readers of an essential quality of discipleship – a joyful life in the face of great difficulty. This is the heart of following Jesus, and this is key to mission.

It would seem that the first disciples were joyful, not because everything went well for them, but rather their joy enabled them to face circumstances when nothing went well! Perhaps we who follow Jesus can also be challenged to discover joy, not as a result of circumstances, but rather as a way of life.
Prayer: Lord, grant me joy that does not depend on getting my own way. Give me peace that does not need everything to be easy. And allow me to laugh in the face of difficulty. For Jesus sake. Amen.  

Week 7: The Son of God
First Sunday after Epiphany
(Scripture reference page 52 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)

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