PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In Proverbs 17:22 ESV, it says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
It’s easy to be joyful on the good days, but it’s this joyful spirit that can strengthen us and help us get through the difficult ones.
A joyful heart isn’t about being happy.
It’s more than that.
It’s the deep-seated faith and contentment that comes from trusting in God’s sovereignty.
In Ezekiel 24:16 ESV, God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down.”
Further do-not-mourn instructions were given in verse 17, and in 18, we learn that Ezekiel’s wife died (“the delight of your eyes”).
Why would God tell Ezekiel not to mourn?
To Ezekiel’s credit, he obeyed God in this.
Let me clarify a few points:
1) God has asked His followers to do some difficult things and this is a prime example of Isaiah 55:8-9—God’s ways are not our ways.
2) Ezekiel can be a difficult book to read, especially since there are so many complex images and symbolism.
And 3) For the millionth time, I’m not a theologian so I’m not going to try to explain complex theology or get into the purpose of God’s no-mourning instructions.
Let’s just all agree that Ezekiel was having a very, very bad week.
Ezekiel already had the difficult responsibility of prophesying God’s judgment on the nation of Israel.
Losing his wife too and not mourning according to the normal customs was probably not easy.
But it wasn’t the first time God commanded someone not to mourn.
In Leviticus 10, Aaron’s sons died after not following the proper process in the Tabernacle.
Aaron was told not to mourn.
Mourning isn’t a bad thing…
Even though Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He wept (John 11:28-44).
This devotion is kind of going in an unexpected direction…
I didn’t intend to get into such heavy material, but the overall point is this—no matter our circumstances, we can choose to have joy in God’s plan.
Or we can wallow in bitterness and despair.
Ezekiel trusted in God and because of that trust, He was able to obey.
I’m pretty certain he wasn’t happy at that moment, and maybe he didn’t even feel joy.
We don’t always feel it, but we can always be confident of joy’s presence when we know God is working all things for His good purpose (Romans 8:28).
Today, as you pray, give thanks to God that He always has a plan and a purpose, even when we don’t see or understand.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have joy in all circumstances.
Ask Him to help you trust, even when tempted to be bitter or overwhelmed with despair.