Friday, September 21, 2018
Joy in suffering…
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Rejoice in sufferings? Joy in trials? What’s that all about? Well, look at the result…character is developed and steadfastness is produced in you! We as humans often seek out things that bring us pleasure, because pleasure brings us good feelings and maybe even some sort of peace…but it’s short-lived. It could be avoiding difficult circumstances, ducking responsibility for an afternoon of golf or shopping, it could involve simply sleeping in on Sundays. Our flesh desires for things to be easy and smooth, and it can’t stand when work is involved, because the world teaches us that acquiring things, taking vacations and running from healthy tension is “where it’s at”. But when we look at scripture, especially the two above, we see that joy is not only found in the mountaintops of life, but in difficult circumstances, and at times extremely difficult circumstances. To the world, this paradox doesn’t make sense, because the flesh runs from conflict, and doesn’t face challenges with joy…but the world and our flesh don’t look to the same result as the Holy Spirit within us does.
God calls us to make disciples, to tell others of the Good News of Jesus Christ and to love Him and others…it’s all about an outflow of service, not an influx of worldly pleasures. It’s about serving others, not self. It’s about glorifying God, not bringing attention to ourselves or our agendas. It’s about being obedient to God, not chasing worldly expectations. When we are able to see this healthy end goal, the mission that we are called to, we find God in the extremely challenging seasons of life…and we know that our character will be developed and steadfastness will be produced.
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