Thursday, September 17, 2015
Happiness in the middle of messes
“Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” is a tough verse to put into practice. (James 1) Another one is, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4)
Why be happy about terrible experiences? Because through them we discover how good, loving and gracious God is. The world wants us to be miserable when hard times come. Being thankful for hard times and learning from them goes against every ounce of our flesh. It makes us strangers to the world, and extremely pleasing to God. Only someone with his heart set on heaven can do that. They have to have eyes to see beyond the mess they’re in.
Some trials can be described as persecution from unbelievers, like the first century Christians, and even modern day believers in countries that are hostile to God. News broadcasts only reveal the tip of the iceberg when it comes to persecution going on in the world right now. God rushes to the aid of all who remain faithful till the end, as true heroes of faith.
On the other end of the spectrum, the least noble of trials are those that we bring on ourselves by stupid sinfulness. Yet even in our own stupidity, God grants us the joy of learning from our mistakes. We discover His greatness and abundant love when we repent and allow Him to pull us up out of a pit, dust us off and clean us up. But God’s forgiveness is irritating to religious people who find pleasure in branding those who have fallen. They like standing in judgment, watching them wallow in misery, dragging chains of remorse around until they’re deemed pitiful enough to be forgiven. Rather than showing love and making an effort to help the fallen get back on their feet again and resume their journey down the narrow path, false Christians find great satisfaction in turning their backs and gloating. The best way to destroy a wounded believer is to ignore them.
This leads to another type of trial, that of being misunderstood, even “persecuted” by other churchgoers who are too narrow-minded to find out who their fellow believers really are. That’s why we’re told to count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds, of all shapes and sizes. It’s hard to do, because we want to feel understood and agreed with. But God has called us to the life of an outsider when it come to false and fleshly Christians, standing firm in what we know is His truth no matter what anyone else says. In the midst of our weakness, in the midst of attacks, God promises to make us strong. It doesn’t feel very noble to hold firm to our faith after repenting from sin, and it’s confusing to be attacked by people who we thought were our family of faith, but God rushes to the aid of anyone who is facing trials and counting it all joy. That’s simply who He is, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (Psalm 103:8).
So no matter type of trials you’re going through today, rejoice! As long as you’re being obedient to God’s voice, you can confidently choose joy over pity and sorrow. You will look weird, you will irritate the devil and those who listen to him, but know that in the midst of all that weakness He will make you strong. When God strengthens you, no one will be able to tear you down.
So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 MEV)