Years ago, I felt like I was in the dark of night, wearied and weighed down in my service to the Lord. Tears came out as I wept in prayer. I didn’t understand why I cried then. I had read, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5). "When would the morning arrive with joy?" I sighed in my heart. "Aren't we supposed to be joyful when we serve our great God?"
Carrying out church work in addition to our own personal and family responsibilities can be quite a heavy load. Life now moves at a fast pace, and fitting everything into your busy schedule can be stressful. Our burdens may result from both physical and emotional stress. A good night's sleep usually takes care of physical stress. But emotional stress can cause you to be downcast and burdened in serving the Lord.
The load may come from a lack of trust in God, others’ expectations or criticism, and our own self-expectation or over-estimation. Worry reveals a lack of trust in God. Psalm 100:3 tells us, “Know that the Lord, He is God.” If we entrust to God all the works we do, we can serve Him without worrying too much about the outcome. We place our trust in the Lord’s leadership through simple faith and prayers, just as a sheep trusts and follows its shepherd.
It is also hard to please everyone and meet others’ expectations. Criticism and complicated human relationships are difficult to handle. If you don’t hold firmly onto a heart of thanksgiving, it is easy to lose joy when serving the Lord.
Oftentimes, however, we carry high expectations of ourselves. We live in a world emphasizing achievement. School has trained us to focus on report cards—to work towards results that will please parents or superiors and impress our peers. Yet Apostle Paul tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Rom 12:3). We need to know who we are and what we do best. Then we dedicate our gifts to God’s service and not to our personal success. If faithfulness, and not success, were our concern, then we would be relieved from the burden of seeking an impressive “report card.” We know that the outcome of holy work is under God’s control, not ours. If you serve without worrying too much about the outcome, you will experience joy and fulfillment in serving God, “for if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Cor 8:12).
By understanding the causes of your stress, examining yourself, and correcting your motives in serving the Lord, you will serve the Lord with gladness. Years later, after I had passed through the valley of tears, God helped me realize the root of my burdens: my own expectations, a self-imposed report card. With this realization and knowing that the Lord bears my load, I serve the Lord with gladness and come before Him with joyful songs.
Indeed, joy comes in the morning.