By the Rivers of Babylon

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt van Rijn,
Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, 1630 


FROM a reader:

In my prayer life and in praying for very specific things, particularly my husband’s abuse of pornography and all the things that result from this abuse, such as loneliness, dishonesty, mistrust, isolation, fear etc. Jesus tells me to be full of joy and gratitude. I get that God allows us so many burdens in life so that our souls may be purified and perfected. He wants us to learn to recognize our own sinfulness and self -love and realize we can’t do anything without Him, but He also tells me specifically to carry it with joy. This seems to elude me… I don’t know how to be joyful in the midst of my pain. I get that this pain is an opportunity from God but I don’t understand why God allows this kind of evil in my home and how am I expected to be joyful about it? He just keeps telling me to pray, give thanks and be joyful and laugh! Any thoughts?


Dear reader. Jesus is truth. He would never, therefore, ask us to dwell in falsehood. He would never demand us to "give thanks and be joyful and laugh" about something as grievous as your husband’s addiction. Nor does He expect someone to chuckle when a loved one dies, or loses his house in a fire, or is laid off from a job. The Gospels do not speak of the Lord laughing or smiling during His Passion. Rather, they recount how the Son of God endured a rare medical condition called hoematidrosis in which, due to severe mental anguish, blood capillaries burst, and the ensuing blood clots are then carried away from the skin surface by sweat, appearing as drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

So, then, what do these Scripture passages mean:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Phil 4:4)

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18)


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