The End of Joy
Monday, May 15, 2017
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
We live in a fallen world, and this fallen world is full of sorrow. We feel Job’s lament in the marrow of our bones: Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). Life has its joys, to be sure, but sorrow reigns supreme, until in the new heavens and new earth, God wipes every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). Till then, the joys are always mixed with sorrow. Not without good reason does Solomon say, Even in laughter the heart may ache. Every honest person knows it’s true.
And mothers especially, or mothers-in-waiting. Hannah had a loving husband, but no child. Am I not more to you than ten sons?, he asked—but she had no child, and she was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly (1 Sam. 1:8, 10). With the joy of a child, however, come the trials of giving birth and the trough of “baby blues.” In time she may weep over the ways her children choose, even while she remembers their childhood and laughs. And all her life, from long colicky nights with her babes to long anxious nights for their soul, a mother loves—and her love is not unmixed with sorrow. Motherhood is “Exhibit A” for the sorrow that sullies every joy.
But Solomon has in mind something far worse than flies in the ointment of life. He has in mind the man who manufactures joy, who whitewashes the sorrows of sin with good times. It doesn’t work, for the end of joy may be grief. The rich fool said to himself, relax, eat, drink, be merry—until God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you (Lk. 12:19-20). And then what?
How different the way of the Lord! Blessed are those who mourn, Jesus said, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).
Welcome to Christ Church this Mother’s Day. When the soul melts away for sorrow, Oh Lord, strengthen us according to your word (Ps. 119:28).
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