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December 27, 2023

Following the Word, Not the World in the New Year

By Erin Conner


Joy and suffering can coexist. The Apostle Paul's example, along with many other godly leaders in Scripture, illuminates that when one surrenders a worldly mindset for a godly one, he or she can indeed experience the joy of the Lord, even in the midst of sorrow. This life-giving principle is a timely one to recall during the holidays, when a palpable expectation exists for everything to be abundantly joyous and when many people are carrying a heavy sorrow in their hearts. "When Your Heart Goes Dark," a recent article in Desiring God written by Greg Morse, powerfully explores how a Christian can have hope and joy in suffering. The antidote is to fix one's thoughts on God, for it is the thought-life of man that dictates the state of our soul. 

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In his article, Morse writes, "As a man thinketh in his heart while under the knife of affliction, so he will become — hardened and drifting away or “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). We see this truth illustrated after one of the darkest events in holy Scripture: the destruction of Jerusalem. The book of Lamentations is aptly named, its pages stained with tears and blood. In it, the poet brings us into the ruins of his heart and the conquered city he loves. From within that cave, Jeremiah teaches us how to find warmth amidst the bitterest winter: he calls truth to mind. As others sink irretrievably, Jeremiah goes down to the threshold of his heart, unlocks the door, and forcibly turns the thoughts of his soul away from his 'affliction and . . . wanderings, the wormwood and the gall' to his half-remembered God. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness...His world has been stripped from him, but 'the Lord is my portion,' he catechizes the inner man, 'therefore I will hope in him.'” 

The truth about joy is this: it has nothing to do with the quality of our circumstances. Joy is a fruit of God's Spirit and is accessible to all who walk with Him, whether in a season of celebration or in a season of grief. 

Morse ends his article with this call: "Weary soul, are you remembering Jesus? Desponding, struggling, exhausted saint, call the Lord Jesus to mind. Bring his sweet remembrance and living presence into the inner chambers."  

Yes, let us bring his Word– His living presence– into the inner chambers so that God Himself, the God of peace, may sanctify us through and through (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  

The Lord desires to bring comfort and healing to all who draw near to Him. In the new year, let us fix our eyes and thoughts on the author and finisher of our faith, Christ Jesus, above all. And may the joy of the Lord be our strength in both triumph and sorrow. 

Read Greg Morse's full article in Desiring God here

Learn more about God's principles in Doctrinal Defeaters 2 from Christian Union's Video Teaching Series, The Seven Keys to Kingdom Advancement, here