This is one of those really deep, common truths — one which Jonathan Edwards expounds with the intellectual horsepower of a genius, and to which our most common experience testifies:
Essential to our present joy is the anticipation of greater joy to come.
This is why, for example, the best part of going on vacation is often the day before we start it. The glad anticipation of what will be compounds in the present and gives us a good feeling. But the closer we get to the last day of vacation, the more the joy diminishes. Sound familiar?
In American culture, the weekend can be a miniature version of this experience. After five days of work, many of us look forward to two days off on Saturday and Sunday. The height of anticipation comes Friday — TGIF! — but by Sunday evening the cheer is gone. Tomorrow we face Monday, with all its certain trials and trying uncertainties.
So how will you face it? How can we make the most of Sunday to prepare for the less-than-enthusiastic tomorrow?
In complement to corporate worship, here are three prayers for facing Monday:
1. Give me a brazen trust in your greatness and your goodness.
Whatever circumstances may come our way tomorrow, the most foundational truth we need to know is that God is in control, and that he is good. Many of us can recite the dinnertime prayer “God is great, God is good…” — but we need more than a good memory for this fact to take effect. We need faith. We need a brazen trust — an indomitable confidence — that our God rules the kingdom of men, that no purpose of his can be hindered, that all he pleases to do he does (Daniel 4:17; Job 42:2; Psalm 115:3). And that he abounds in steadfast love, that he is compassionate and merciful, that his nearness is our good (Exodus 34:6; James 5:11; Psalm 73:28).
Saying it is one thing; believing it is another. So we ask God for this faith.
2. Give me a humble heart towards the people I will encounter.
Most circumstances we face involve faces. Real people. People with their own stories. People with eternal souls. This means oftentimes how we face situations is really about how we relate to others. And what we need is humility. We need a deep, sincere sense that we are creatures. If the first prayer is to know the greatness and goodness of God, this second prayer is to know that greatness and goodness are original to him, not us. We are not that great. We are not that good.
Admitting this doesn’t come natural. So we ask God for this heart.
3. Give me the deep joy that because of Jesus, the best is always yet to come.
This is no cliché. No too-good-to-be-true platitude. For the Christian, the best is always, always, yet to come. The first two prayers come together in this one: a great God will judge all evil, a good God will show mercy, and Jesus vividly showed both for the helpless.
On the cross, Jesus simultaneously absorbed God’s wrath for sinners and demonstrated God’s love for sinners (Romans 3:25; 5:8). And because he did this, because we are united to him by faith, no circumstance in this life is worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us. The best is always yet to come. Even in eternity, as Edwards explains, we will never stop saying this.
And that is reason for unwavering celebration. So we ask for this deep joy.