There is paradoxical good news in the news today.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that according to the latest coronavirus numbers, his state is on a downward descent from the curve. Unfortunately, he explained the good news this way: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that” (his emphasis).
Another paradoxical story: the final five hundred landmines at a historic baptism site on the Jordan River have been exploded and removed. The UK-based demining specialist HALO Trust group did the work at Qasr al-Yahud in preparation for Easter.
I have been to the site many times, but we always had to be very careful to stay on the one road, as mines remaining from earlier conflicts riddled the fields around us. Now they have been removed and churches can build and minister here far more effectively.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is now decimating travel to the Holy Land. I had to cancel trips to Israel planned for April and May. Closing the borders to tourism may cost $1.7 billion.
Joy in a jail cell
One of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that believers often find the greatest joy in the most difficult circumstances. This is because joy is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” independent from any and all circumstances (Galatians 5:22). We find the joy of the Lord not in our lives but in our Lord.
Consider three examples from the life of Paul.
One: After he and Silas were arrested in Philippi and the magistrates “had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison” (Acts 16:23). But two verses later we read, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (v. 25). Their joy was not in their jail cell but in their Lord.
Two: When the Lord refused to remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” the apostle responded: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). His joy was not in his pain but in his Provider.
Three: In a Roman prison, Paul wrote back to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). His joy was not in Rome but in heaven.
How can you and I have his paradoxical joy in a pandemic?
Dr. Jim Denison is the CVO of Denison Forum. His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 200,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.