Monday, April 8, 2013

Consider it All Joy

The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself. ~ Benjamin Franklin

There are two extremes when it comes to American Christians.  Those who believe that suffering makes us more holy, and that we should dignify and exalt suffering by embracing it.  These people have a hard time praying for healing or miracles for themselves or others, or being bold in their faith for any request at all. Since they believe that God sees suffering as a path to holiness, it must be selfish to ask to have it removed.

Then we have the “God just wants me to be happy” people, who will bend and twist the Word of God to fit their lifestyle.  “God understands that I need a drink now and then, because He’s love.”  “God knows that when I don’t go to church I still feel one with Him everywhere I go, even when I’ve totally forgotten about Him, He’s always in the back of my mind, and that counts, doesn’t it?” “God knows that I didn’t mean to have that affair, since my spouse has been so mean to me lately… God understands… He just wants me to be happy…”

Funny that you can find these two extremes in the exact same people from time to time!  While chasing after happiness, a person can get sideswiped with a horrible problem, and then be paralyzed with doubt, unsure if this is something that God want’s them just to accept and learn a lesson from.  Fighting in faith is the furthest thing from their mind.

There’s a verse in the book of James that says we are to be happy when we experience various trials and problems.  That is not what we like to hear.  But because evil exists in our lives and in the world around us, there is only one way to rescue us from that evil – to use our faith and live close to Him.  To live close to Him means sacrificing our will, and doing His.  And most of the time it hurts!  And in the middle of the pain we’re supposed to consider it joy?  How?

Like pulling a splinter from the finger of a child, you hate to see them cry and squirm in pain, but they are being freed from a worse pain that could become infected and grow more harmful.  God has to rescue us from ourselves from time to time, through trials - that process of forcing us to reject our selfishness and choose Him.

Jesus says that He came to give us life, and life to the full, and that He became a curse for us.  But to have that life to the full, we have to surrender to Him, and in our usual stupidity, we prefer selfishness over surrender.   So to lovingly push us towards that life to the full, He allows us to go through things that are painful: discipline, misunderstandings, even attacks of the devil.  Yup, God hates the devil and all he does, but even when we become targets of the devil, God can turn it into an instrument for our good.  God doesn’t want suffering, but for us to be freed, we have to rise up against it and exercise our faith.

God hates the suffering of His people
Our hearts are naturally against God and self-centered
For us to choose God, we have to fight against our own selfishness
Fighting against evil in our hearts/lives by faith, sets us free
Fighting keeps us alert to the attacks of the devil
Fighting strengthens our resolve to serve God more
Fighting is a sacrifice of selfishness, and sacrifice creates miracles
Fighters are more blessed than passive believers
Fighters in faith honor God

And because God loves us, because He wants us to have His life to the full:
God allows trials and suffering, so we can learn to fight
Suffering is meant to be overcome

For those who hang their heads without rising up in faith to battle against their problems, they may make it to heaven once they die, but they never find that life to the full that Jesus promised here on earth.  Considering it a joy to face trials, is to enjoy the fight, enjoy the knowledge that victory is on the other side.  Some trials last for days, others for months, and the one greatest trial for each of us lasts a lifetime: perseverance in faith until the end.  But the blessings and miracles and power of God we experience throughout the fight are worth it all.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4


Divya said...

We must fight! We were born fighting. There are other beliefs in this world that say that one should accept suffering as part of life and learn how to deal with it and be happy inside. Other beliefs say that sufferings are a result of our past actions even up to previous lives, and that if we are very good, things will be better if not in this life, in the next. If the world is full of beliefs that accept suffering, and we are not of this world, then we must be different. Our God must be different.
I am learning how to fight, not with people, but with my faith in God.

Anonymous said...

This is the sad state of weak Christian hiding behind the bible verses and unbelievers are at times more in the perseverant than us.

ms guni
united kingdom