LATJ: Perfect Passion

14 09 2009

end-joy-road-signIt’s easy to be joyful when everything is going your way. Work is going well, your spouse is happy, your kids are happy. What more could you want? Sing praises to the Lord and be glad! But what about when things aren’t going so well? Are you still singing praises to the Lord? I’ve seen so many people that have no problem giving thanks to the Lord when things go well, when they win a game, score a touchdown, land a new job. Yet when things don’t go well these same people sound off with complaints against God — How could God have let this happen to me? Why didn’t God let us win this game? Why did God allow me to get sick? I have not found anywhere in the Bible where God promises us a smooth-sailing, easy-going life.

Take a look at James 1:2 and what he says about trials: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials“. Notice that it doesn’t say “if”, but “when”. That doesn’t sound like a promise that we will never have troubles. In fact, we better be prepared because they are going to come. We may not always have control over the circumstances in our life, but we do have control over our response to those circumstances. If you truly believe that God is here with us (Immanuel) and that God will provide for us (Jehovah Jira) then you need to consider the purpose of the circumstances in your life. If you continue reading in James (verses 3-4) you begin to see what that purpose might be: “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Said another way, the “troubles and difficulties are a tool which refines and purifies our faith, producing patience and endurance.” (Nelson Study Bible).

I love the way that another one of my pastors put it: “The difficulties in your life are an opportunity to show that Christ is sufficient” (Neal Jeffrey). This statement should challenge you in your faith because it makes you really consider the depth of your commitment to Christ. How strong is your faith? Do you count it all joy when trials fall upon you? Does your joy depend upon your circumstances? Jesus has been through it all. He knows what it takes. And He was joyful. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2).

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