Joy from ashes

Published 9:24 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

The sources of joy and comfort are not always the same. I watched a news documentary only a few years ago that featured several lottery winners. The purpose of the report was to show the destruction that winning millions of dollars had wrought in the lives of lottery winners. In fact, the stories of lottery winners that were put forward in this documentary showed that many lottery winners are worse off within a short time of winning the lottery.

It sounds like some kind of oxymoron to suggest that the consequence of winning millions of dollars could be destruction in one’s life, but it’s true. One of the accounts was of a man who won more than $10 million dollars. After making himself and his family more comfortable, he used the rest of the money as a down payment on the construction of an immense luxurious hotel just outside of his hometown, which is right in the middle of nowhere. The hotel was a flop. The man was embarrassed to the point of shame. His marriage was in shambles and his relationship to his children suffered.

The man had gotten what he had always wanted. He had enough money to make him very comfortable. He had a new home, new cars and new clothes. He finally had enough capital to make his dream hotel a reality. In the end he lost the home and the cars and owed even more money than he had won. Often in this life the things that are supposed to bring us comfort do not bring us joy.

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In God’s economy, the opposite is true. On the Friday that we commemorate each year with Good Friday, Jesus hung on a cross. He had just been beaten and spat upon and was enduring the deepest discomfort, if we may put it so mildly. After He was buried in a sealed tomb all hope, seemed to be lost. His discomfort had turned into His disciples’ distress and sorrow. Then the Bible tells us that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many people.

What appeared to be the death of Jesus was actually the death of death. Jesus, in suffering and dying, conquered death and made a way for peace with God for every person. The cross was not a source of comfort for Jesus, but it has become a source of overwhelming joy. The sources of joy and comfort are not always the same. Easter is the story of the death of death and new through straightforward faith in Jesus. Ours is a God who brings joy out of ashes, peace from lashes, and eternal hope from thorns.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)