“Nevertheless… rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:17-20 

“Yet, I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Hab. 3:18

Lord Jesus, two contrasting stories frame these verses. In the first, 72 disciples returned from a successful mission “high-5-ing” each other with joy, because of their victory over the powers over darkness.

In the second, the prophet Habakkuk expresses confusion and heartache, as the armies of Babylon approach Jerusalem to invade and destroy it. The 72 disciples watched the darkness flee, Habakkuk saw the darkness coming. In both stories, we see the call to anchor our joy and hope in you, not in anything or anyone else. Help us, Jesus.

     There is a joy that trumps all joys, surpasses all gladness, and redefines happiness itself. It’s “nevertheless-joy.” Sometimes, our dance-worthy circumstances outnumber our whine-worthy ones, 10 to 1. Nevertheless, our joy must be in you, Jesus, and what you’ve done for us, period.

Other times, like Habakkuk, we feel confusion, sadness, and fear. Events and circumstances contradict our understanding of what it means to belong to you. In those stretches, our joy has to be “yet-joy.” Life does gets hard—real hard. Yet, (as you give us grace and strength) we will rejoice in you, Lord Jesus—the “God of our salvation.”

This side of heaven you don’t and won’t explain everything you’re writing into our “story.” But we do know this, you have written “our names in heaven”—into your “book,” heart, and eternity. Our names are written with the indelible ink of God’s grace in the “Lamb’s book of life.” And that is enough to know for sure, for now. So very Amen we pray, in your generous and grace-full name, Jesus.