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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

ThinkstockPhotos-468139887"Our Lord Jesus wants our joy to be full. Certainly, he has made abundant provision for our joy. And if we focus our minds on the facts from which joy flows, springs of joy will well up in our hearts every day of our lives; and this will turn our ongoing pilgrimage through this world into an experience of contentment and exaltation of which the world knows nothing" (J. I. Packer, God’s Plans for You, 125).
J. I. Packer rightly asserts that we can have joy because Jesus has made abundant provision for our joy. Christians are called to have joy in the midst of trials, rough days, bad times—you name it. In fact, we are to rejoice always (“Again I say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:6). If we consider our lot and the provision that God supplies, no matter our circumstances, there is hope. And where there is hope, there can be joy.  

I certainly don’t feel joy when going through a hardship. At the end of a bad day all I want is for a new day to begin; to start from scratch without all the stress that ‘today’ threw on my plate. I want to forget that this day even happened and fast-forward to the good part, you know, when I’m happy. But joy runs deeper than that. Joy finds its roots in hope, and hope is backed by Gospel success.

No matter the day we may be facing, the Gospel provides the hope we need to be joyful. And that joy softens our all too often stone-encrusted heart to make it vivacious, lively, and ripe. A ripe heart screams out confession. A lively heart orients itself Godward. And a vivacious heart pulsates with humility—humility that leads to a soul stripped of conceit and clothed with a great fervor to repent.

We should be joyful, even in the midst of difficulty, because as long as we are living we are given the option of obedience. As a Christian, there is not one situation imaginable where you cannot, in some way, chose to obey God. And repentance is an act of obedience. Do we ever count it a joy that we even can repent? It is such a beautiful thing. We can sin against a holy God, and His response is not immediate destruction, but grace. He is a relenting God who loves to see His people turn from their sin and cling to the blood-stained wood of the cross. Oh what joy it is that we have that grace! Oh what joy it is that we can repent.

Whatever your sin may be, choose obedience. Whatever bad day you may have or trial you may be experiencing, choose obedience. Hold fast to your God and repent. Thanks be to God for His graciousness in that we even can repent. I pray this time of fasting humbles your heart to acknowledge this and to sing praises to His name.

Zachary Albanese
Interim Ministry Director at Dartmouth