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When is Fear Mixed with Great Joy?
- Matthew 28:8
Have you ever been so stunned by something so amazing that you were trembling with fear and great joy at the same time? The closest I have come sometimes has been on the tops of mountains, in intense thunderstorms or as a kid when I was going top-speed on a sled down a hill in the snow. When I was younger, I used to love watching thunderstorms roll in, and as they did, the rumbling of the thunder and the darkening of the sky would fill me with a joyful and fearful awe.
In T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Marie remembers feeling fearful and free:
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I imagine that when Mary and Mary Magdalene ran away from the tomb on that great Resurrection Morning, they could have said to each other, "Mary, hold on tight." Because in the power and glory of the resurrection, everything had changed! They were filled with fear and great joy.
When God acts in definitive ways, we are afraid as we consider how small and powerless we are. The great acts of God are so beyond us that they make us tremble. Thankfully, God's great acts are acts of redemption for His children, and so they also fill is with great joy!
Sadly, something has happened to me. I no longer feel the same joyful exhilaration at the coming of a thunderstorm. Sometimes, I hike to the top of a mountain and I fail to be awestruck by the beauty of my Father's world. Even worse, sometimes the reality of the resurrection of Jesus doesn't move my heart with fear and great joy.
Father, soften my heart by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Rekindle the joy and reignite the fear of You. For You are God, the God of Resurrection, You have overthrown sin and death. Make me tremble again at the wonder of it. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Here's a great classic resurrection worship song to rekindle our joy:
And here's another one, even older and more wonderful:
Praise is due to You, O God, in Zion,
and to You shall vows be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
to You shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
You atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one You choose and bring near,
to dwell in Your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
the holiness of Your temple!
By awesome deeds You answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the One who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
for so You have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.