Tag Archive for grief

Fullness of Joy

My tears have been my food day and night.
O my God, my soul is in despair.
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over Me.
(Psalm 42:3, 6, 7, NASB)

Father, grief and sorrow have come in like a flood,
and I am overwhelmed.
Tears are my constant companion.
I need joy, the joy that comes only from You,
but I cannot grasp it.

Father, now I am ready to hear the words of Christ.
Now I am ready to look hungrily at His example.
Hours before His arrest, torture, and brutal execution,
what was He so eager to share with His disciples?
The fullness of His joy:

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11, NASB)

“[Father,] now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” (John 17:13, NASB)

Jesus stood on the brink of the greatest
physical, emotional, and spiritual assault
any human has ever faced.
What strengthened Him, encouraged Him, and drew Him on?
His fullness of joy.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2, NASB)

Jesus endured every humiliation that unbridled hatred could throw at Him, yet
He despised the shame.
He considered it unworthy of consideration in light of
the joy set before Him.

Father, Jesus found His joy in You, in
knowing You,
pleasing You, and
glorifying You.
Father, You are the fullness of joy for me as well.
With Jesus, I seek,
not joy,
but You. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Fullness of Joy
Printed Music & Lyrics


O Father,
sorrow can either
separate You and me or
draw us nearer.

It can either
embitter me or
enrich me,
depending on whether I
trust You or
blame You.

Sorrow deepens the mystery of Your love.
But at the same time it helps me
better understand Your love.
It helps me
feel it, and
share it.

Thank You, Father.
Thank You for turning everything that comes to me into
a precious gift.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: God Is Great, and God Is Good
Printed Music & Lyrics

About “Fullness of Joy”

I have written elsewhere about my search for joy after our son took his own life (see Unchanging Joy). God had directed me to focus, not on my grief, but on my unchanging joy in Christ – the joy that is always available to me in Him, no matter what the situation. I wrote the hymn Christ My Joy as a way of reconnecting with that joy.

But my hunger for unchanging joy continued. Once again I had come across the folk tune, “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes” and had felt compelled to use it as a hymn tune. In searching for an idea for a text to go with it, I was brought back to my search for joy.

Writing this hymn text proved to be a very emotional experience for me. I shed more tears in the writing of this hymn than with all my other hymns combined. I struggled.

Throughout my grief, I had never wanted to lash out at God with bitter questions. But in writing this hymn, I sensed Him compelling me to ask the questions found in the first half of v.2:

How can Your path of tender care be
So rough and dark and steep?
How can Your loving wisdom lead us
To groan and grieve and weep?

I needed to verbalize the questions in order to get at the truth. God’s answers are found in the last half of verses 2 and 3.

Sometimes God won’t answer the questions on our hearts until we ask them. So ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. But as you ask, continue to trust His wisdom and love. Otherwise your heart may be focused in the wrong direction, and you won’t hear the answers when they come.

Often when we ask the “Why?” questions, God will not explain Himself. But He will assure us of His presence. That’s the way it was with me. When I asked the “Why?” questions through this hymn, He gave me a new sense of Christ walking this road with me. And He has. He truly has walked every step with me. My grief has brought a deeper sharing with the suffering Christ.

He has showed me that I should seek, not joy, but Him. He Himself is the fullness of joy.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Fullness of Joy
Printed Music & Lyrics

Unchanging Joy

Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10, NASB)

I wrote the hymn below out of deep grief. On February 20, 2015, our 38-year-old son, David, took his own life. It was totally unexpected, and we were overwhelmed with a sorrow we had never experienced.

As the months passed and the grief still shrouded our souls, I tried my normal way of processing thoughts and feelings: I attempted to write about my grief. But when I did, the river of sorrow within me overflowed and engulfed me. Writing about my grief only made it worse.

Eventually I began to realize that God was calling me to focus, not on grief, but on joy. He was teaching me to live in joy, even when flooded with deepest sorrow. He prodded me to write about and sing about the joy that is always mine in Christ. Situations change, often beyond our control. But Jesus Christ does not change. Who He is in us and who we are in Him is right now our bright, eternal, all-encompassing reality. Christ is our unchanging joy, springing up forever, refreshing us whenever we obey the Bible’s urgent reminder to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NASB)

When Jesus was in the darkest hours of His life, facing trial, torture, and execution, He spoke to His disciples about His fullness of joy. He longed to share with them His deep joy in the midst of sorrow.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11, NASB) 

During my time of grief, our loving Father is teaching me to drink deeply of Jesus Christ, my always and forever fountain of joy. This hymn was written primarily for myself, as a way to daily rejoice in Christ. I gladly share it with you.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Christ My Joy
Printed Music & Lyrics