As your relationship with the Lord grows, so will your attitude, perspective, and joy.
What surprised me about becoming Christian was that the Christian life was not just a good-time, worry-free life.
On the contrary, the comfort that comes from Jesus is not that we will no longer have adversity in our lives but rather that we are assured of adversity and are not expected to endure it alone. (John 16:33)
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:19)
"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." (2 Corinthians 4:17)
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10)
"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
It is in that knowledge that we can find our joy.
Knowing that God is with us and what God has in store for us are two of the most significant pieces of information we will ever possess. One is a tool to get through this life. The other is the promise of the life that follows.
We are easily disheartened if we take our eyes off these two truths. We find reasons to complain, and before long, this becomes our default position.
Of course, we will have pain.
Of course, we will be sad over losing a job, a possession, or a loved one. The difference between sadness and devastation is where our hearts turn in our most challenging moments. We are to rejoice in our hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
After the four Gospel accounts in the Bible, we get the teachings of five other authors (and more from one of the Gospel authors) on how our perspectives are to be influenced by Jesus. Next week, I will be more specific regarding Jesus' most important teachings.
My favorite example might be Paul, writing to the church he founded in Philippi, from his time of house arrest in Rome, chained to a Roman prison guard.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
That is an inspiring perspective. We complain about waiting behind three people at the checkout counter. Paul lived a tough life but lived it for the Lord and the hope of what was to follow this life.
Peter had every reason to believe he had disappointed Jesus but shared with his audience joy in the knowledge of our Savior.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
Jude shared with other Christians the secret to perseverance while in this life.
“keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)
John wrote extensively about his knowledge of Jesus in and out of the Gospel accounts. Perhaps John best captures what awaits us that we are to be so joyful about in this life.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2)
Like Paul, James taught Christians to rejoice in their trials because of the ensuing spiritual backbone produced.
“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)
At no time in the Bible do we read:
Believe in Me, and life will be easier for you.
Avoid all difficulties and challenges, and you will have a great life.
Complain about everything in your life, and God will make it better.
We don't read these things because God wants us ready for the spiritual warfare we will endure while still in this life. He wants warriors who, with God's help, can stand up to Satan and everything he throws at us.
So don't bemoan your circumstances. Ask God to help you change them or find fulfillment in them if this is where He wants you. Don't complain about your job; be grateful for it, and through prayer, seek to understand why God wants you there. Be thankful you can go out and find a different job with God's help.
It is easy to find fault. It is easy to identify what is wrong with something. Anyone can want something more.
In the New Testament, Jesus's disciples--John, Jude, Peter, James, and Paul--encourage us similarly. What happens to us in this fallen world--the evil, the persecution, the struggles, the trials, the tears, and the death--these are the things that Jesus saved us from. That is our hope, and that is our joy.
Have faith, stay in prayer, and keep your eyes on God through Jesus. Learn what God has in store for us through His Word to us in the Bible.
When times get tough, look to God, keep calm, and count it all joy.
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.