Fresh Joy after Failed Resolutions
As we end our first month of 2020, how many of us have already given up on our New Year's resolutions? Or, at a minimum, how many of us have created some "exceptions" to our resolutions? Did you know that January 17th was New Year's Resolution Quitters Day? The reason we have to have such a day is because we long to make big changes and quickly fall back into our normal habits. This is not just you, this is part of being human.
Isaiah chapters 13-27 is a big section where God is making known that he is the Supreme One over all nations of the earth. He goes in exquisite detail about all of their failures, including his own covenant people. Over and over again they have made promises to repent, to follow God, and to just do better. These words mean little to God as Isaiah confronts them:
"And the Lord said: 'Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,'" (Isaiah 29:13)
The people of God had made a habitual lifestyle of saying one thing but doing another. Does this sound familiar? How many times have we committed to watching our tongue only to lash out at a loved one. How many times have we promised not to gossip but then tore someone's reputation down to raise ours up? How many times have we said we will spend more time with the Lord in the mornings only to waste hours playing video games or scrolling on social media?
After all these failures and sins are brought into the light by God, he then gives one of the most beautiful and hopeful ways forward. He isn't done with his people, not for one second. In fact, we find the one way to be saved from God and his wrath is to run to God for help. But this means we must humble ourselves and let God's assessment be correct. This is what Isaiah means 29:19 when he says,
"The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel."
Is that not incredible? Who doesn't want fresh joy? This is a promise to bring a new season of joy to a rebellious people. This is for people who have looked everywhere else and are ready to throw their hands up and say, "God, you are right. I've royally messed things up again. I've looked everywhere for joy but you. I'm ready for a fresh joy in you alone." Is that you? Do you want a fresh joy in the Lord? I do as well! But there is a catch: This fresh joy is reserved for only the meek. To be meek is to have a general posture of quietness, submission, and gentleness. If you are willing to give up striving and lift your eyes to Jesus, you will find meekness.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the hungry crowds: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). So, meekness promises us a fresh joy and the earth as our inheritance? How in the world can God promise such a thing to us? It is because meekness abandons self-glory and throws itself upon the mercy of Christ. He was the ultimate picture of meekness as he submitted to his Father every day of his life (John 5:18-29). Jesus showed his meekness when he did not count equality something to grasp on to but instead went to the cross for whoever would believe in him (Phil. 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus showed meekness as he stayed quiet in the midst of injustice even though he knew that he was right (1 Peter 2:19-23). Above all, Jesus showed his meekness in laying down his own life and taking it up again to give us life. His call is to lay down all self-glory, all reputation, and trust in him. In doing so, we get the fresh joy we are all longing for. What a great God!