Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18 – Joy in a crucible

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 1:6-7 HCSB)

Serving and following Jesus as Lord will always involve trials and struggles – that’s a given. But Christians who emphasize trials and downplay rejoicing are distorting God’s word, just as much as those who over emphasize peace love and happiness without sacrifice. Trials and joy are both part and parcel of being born of God’s Spirit. But they aren’t doled out in equal amounts. God reveals to us in this verse written by Peter, that trials are for a short time. They rarely feel like a short time when we’re in the middle of them, but that’s because we don’t see that even in the middle of trials, joy is there if we seek it.  

James tells us in his first chapter to consider it all joy when we face trials of many kinds.  To someone with no clue about the Holy Spirit, that statement sounds ludicrous and even offensive.  But those who have the new birth get it.  It makes perfect sense to rejoice in trials – it’s a challenge, it’s a fight against their flesh, but it’s totally doable.  How can that command be offensive if you know that the fire you’re about to go through can’t possibly destroy you but will purify you like gold instead?  

The joy of the Holy Spirit is supernatural and can create an expectation of great things to come when nothing is yet visible to the eye. And when it takes a while for answers to come, that joy is still there as long as it’s actively sought with determination. And then when prayers do get answered, that joy explodes and lifts us up to see the face of God even clearer. A Christian who is dour and critical, somber and unable to laugh at his or her own mistakes is far from the presence of the Holy Spirit and needs a good spiritual jolt to bring them back to God. Sometimes that jolt needs to be a rebuke, and other times a show of kindness to remind them that they are loved by a great God. But either way, a belief system that produces negativity and a harsh spirit is not from God.  

When the Spirit of God is in us, He can use even the most mundane things to fill us with a supernatural joy that sustains us when we’re being melted down like gold in a crucible.  And when the fire subsides, how much stronger that joy becomes. 

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