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Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: “The Lord Takes Pleasure in Those Who Fear Him”

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love (Psalm 147:7-11, ESV).

This past Sunday after Easter was Jubilate. “Jubilate” means to “rejoice.” The last reading on this day, the Gospel reading, contains difficult elements. Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death on the cross. He tells them that in a little while, He will leave, and in a little while they will have much sorrow. Yet, this Sunday’s name is “Jubilate” and the appointed Psalm is full of rejoicing in what the LORD has done and does do continuously for us: making rain to fall, defeating enemies and more.

Jesus does leave the disciples with a word of hope, however. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20, ESV). How will the sorrow of the disciples be turned to joy? When we face trials in this life, how and why should our sorrow be turned to joy? When we, too, look and see only crosses to bear and illnesses to struggle through, and betrayals on all sides, how can we, too, trust that there will come a time when our sorrow will turn to joy and when we will have cause to “sing to the LORD with thanksgiving?”

LCMS OIM Catechist, Rev. Daniel S Johnson, assists Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin with distribution of Holy Communion at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chita, Russia,in eastern Siberia (April 2014).

LCMS OIM Catechist, Rev. Daniel S Johnson, assists Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin with distribution of Holy Communion at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Chita, Russia,in eastern Siberia (April 2014).

Jesus was a man of sorrows. Betrayed, beaten, crucified and abandoned by the Father upon a cruel cross, Jesus knew the depths of sorrow. But He knew also the depths of the “fear of Yahweh.” He knew also the depths of trusting in the Father when all things speak of only sorrow continually on all sides. Down in the depths of the grave, in the jaws of death, Jesus feared Yahweh perfectly and trusted in Him to turn sorrow into rejoicing. And so Yahweh did.

Yahweh took pleasure and rejoiced in the Son Who feared and trusted in Him perfectly even in the grip of death. He took pleasure and rejoiced in Him and brought Him out of the grave. He turned the ultimate sorrow — the death of the Son of God — into the ultimate joy — His resurrection and defeat of death. And then He transferred that joy to us — He killed us in the waters of our Baptisms and raised us to new life. He transferred to us the “joy of our salvation” now and forevermore. We rejoice because Yahweh rejoices in us, who fear and trust in Him by virtue of our Baptisms. No matter what may come — even death itself — Yahweh takes pleasure in us as in His Son, and He will resurrect us, just as He did His Son. As we face the sorrow of this life, we cling to the joy of the promises we know will stand ever true, and we say even in the midst of sorrow, “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!”

Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, You rejoice in those who fear You; thank You for making us those who fear and trust in You above all things through our Baptisms into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ and keep us ever steadfast in the one true faith until life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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