no joy in Mudville

April 2015 (6)Isaiah 24:10-16

10 An empty city is broken; every house is shut from entering. 11 I hear an outcry over the wine in the streets. All joy turns into nightfall; the joy of the land disappears. 12 The city is left a desolation; its gate is crushed –in a state of ruin. 13 Because it will be like this in the midst of the land, among the nations, like beating an olive tree, like what is left over when a grape harvest is at an end. 14 They lift up their voice, they sing for joy; they shout out westward over the majesty of Yahveh. 15 For this reason you should glorify Yahveh in the east, the name of Yahveh the God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea. 16 We hear songs from the wing of the land: “Glory to the righteous one!” But I say, “Ruin to me! Ruin to me! Woe to me! Treacherous ones are dealing treacherously, and treacherous ones are dealing treacherously — such treachery!”

no joy in Mudville

Today’s text reminded me of the final lines of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem: “Casey at the bat.”

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.”

Isaiah sees into the near future, and sees the distant nations offering songs of joy to Yahveh, but Jerusalem itself will be broken and in ruins. His readers and hearers could not imagine such a thing. It would be unthinkable that the very city of David would be destroyed, and people elsewhere would continue expressing worship and praise for the LORD.

A mature faith begins to develop in me when I can face times of boredom or despair or loss but still keep my connection with the God I serve. I can face the reality of life as it is, and accept it without putting on a show of false exuberance. I can trust God to be God without pretending that he has fixed (or even will fix) all my problems today. I can look unfulfilled promises and expectations in the face without becoming bitter or losing my faith. I can do this because I realize that my journey is not at its end. The fruit of the Spirit is joy, but the Spirit is also my Comforter in times of sorrow.

LORD, what ever we face today, we determine to face it honestly, and be content to stay with you through the whole journey.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !
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