SUNDAY: JOY by Holly Yinger

SCRIPTURE: Amos 9:11-14, Psalm 98

Our world aches for joy. Real, lasting, deep seeded joy. Many attempt to manufacture this by stringing together one fleeting happiness after another. We are overwhelmed by illusions of things that we will make us happy. But what we crave deep within our souls is the gift of God-given joy that doesn’t fade in a moment. Joy that doesn’t fizzle and fade depending on the circumstances of any given day. We crave a joy that can persevere amidst the very real weight of our days.

This joy that we are given is summarized well in the words of Jonathan Edwards, “Our bad things turn out for good. Our good things can never be lost. And the best things are yet to come.”

The text that we read today in Amos embodies well this joy that Jonathan Edwards speaks of. Amos 9:11-14 declares the restoration of Israel. God reminds Israel of intentions to remain faithful to them. This good ‘thing’ we have going in our relationship with God can never be lost. In and of itself, it can surely be cause for joy.

But to truly understand and appreciate this restoration promise it is necessary to understand the rest of Amos 9. Just a few verses before the restoration, we read of the destruction of Israel. They have been a people whose lives depend on the oppression of others. Their daily lives have remained disconnected from their sacrifices and religious practices. Their small gestures of righteousness have been useless, because their hearts have remained unchanged.
Though God has remained faithful to them, they have been unfaithful. And so, Amos 9:1-10 reveals the inevitable consequences for their unfaithfulness. They life they have chosen has been one of destruction. And so destruction will come.

But— God does not condemn them to hopelessness. God doesn’t deliver them from all the consequences of their unrighteousness, because Israel would never learn to associate their destruction appropriately. They would continue in their destructive ways, because it would seem that it doesn’t matter one way or the other. But God longs for us to recognize that the way we go about our daily lives matters. Our joy is found in discovering that even still,
God still longs to see restoration for them and for us. We can find joy in the truth that the messes we make do not condemn us. What joy, that our bad things can be redeemed.

We can celebrate with joy always knowing that when we draw near to God, “Our bad things turn out for good. Our good things can never be lost. And the best things are yet to come.”

Lord, we pray for joy in our hearts that stays.
We ask that You would give us wisdom to discern between temporary happinesses and Your eternal joy.

Josh Kleinfeld