Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 28, 2015
The Joy of the Lord
One of the so-called mortal sins is acedia—sadness of heart or resignation. Close cousin to depression. I know depression. I have friends and acquaintances who are quite familiar with almost constant sadness of heart, depression, even despair at times.
How is it that we here in the United States can live in such a materially rich time, yet feel so empty? So desperately sad? Boredom doesn’t even touch it. The deep feeling goes much further to the soul’s interior than just that.
Yes, it seems like an insidious disease, almost an unseen plague. And those who are not afflicted do not, and cannot, possibly understand the deep pain. The desperate fear and anxiety. It is truly an inside job. On the interior.
Monastic literature had more than a nodding acquaintance with acedia, though. I feel deeply for those so afflicted, in the centuries past. I pray they had some relief.
Relief can come from God, to some extent. (Not to the exclusion of everything else, though! Please, listen to your doctor or therapist. Please, please.)
As I was saying, joy—deep and abiding joy—can come from God. God delights in giving joy to God’s children. One of the compilers of this book of December meditations writes, “The joy of the Lord has gone through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.” 
No easy joy, here, however. A biblical illustration, from several places in Scripture. It is through difficulty and distress that deep emotion goes through fiery trial, as if through a refiner’s fire. We can understand that, to a greater or lesser extent. Let us praise God for God’s presence with us. We celebrate Emmanuel—God with us, indeed, through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. O.C. Dean, Jr., compiled and edited, Jana Riess (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), 72.