It is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives that it is to rejoice for the good. I don’t know why that is, but it seems that our natural bent is to complain about what is happening to us rather than recognize what God is doing in the difficulty. I’m sure that I have been guilty of that in my own life. As we come out of the Christmas season and I have seen people returning those precious Christmas gifts complaining that the gift didn’t work; was the wrong size; didn’t meet with their liking; etc. — I could only think about how dissatisfied we are most of the time! Just like we forgot that someone sacrificed something in order that we might have that gift; we forget that He sacrificed all so that we might have eternal life.
When Lloyd and I moved to Ghana in 2004 we didn’t speak the language; we couldn’t eat the food; we didn’t know the rules; we didn’t understand the culture. People stole from us; people told us that they did work that they didn’t actually do; the car kept breaking down; pipes kept bursting (once so badly that we had to fetch water and bring large barrels into and around the house for use); bugs were getting into everything; the ceiling fell in; malaria happened; dysentery happened; etc. When all of these things happened – we were careful to encourage one another to rejoice at how God was going to fix it for us; how He was going to use us to be Him to the people we were trusting to fix the problems; how our headaches would bring Him glory. Lloyd and I would go into our room and inspect one another – miraculously we found that neither of us had scars from a thorny crown; holes from nails in our wrists or feet; and not even a spear in our sides! Incredible isn’t it! None of it was Calvary! We believed every time that He would give us the strength to bear it – and He did!! Time and time again – He brought us through all of it.
My dear friend Mike Pickett wrote a song that serves to remind me daily of what it means to count all of it as joy. The lyrics say,
“You are the salt of the earth, a preservative for some. You may be the ONLY reason destruction hasn’t come. If while following God you find yourself in the midst of circumstance; you may have been sent there to let someone know that today may be the last chance to walk in righteousness; holiness; love; peace; and joy in the Holy Spirit of God”
So, yeah — you may be driving a car that is a little older than you like, and it may require a lot of repair; but are you taking that opportunity to be salt and light to the person who will repair the car? You might be facing a different trial everyday in your health (thanks for this lesson, Lorenita!); but are you being salt and light to all who visit you and to the doctors and nurses that serve you?
This life on this earth is temporal! Don’t lose sight of that! Our home is in heaven – a place where all will be well! As for the “momentary light afflictions” you WILL face down here — count it as joy AND count it as an opportunity for you to be His glory in this fallen world. Know that as you face each hardship with joy – you will have more patience and endurance to face the next thing. Being used for His glory in the midst of it all is just the icing on the cake! I like icing and the thought of being icing on His cake is an incredible gift to my heart! May the Father move me to trust Him in the midst of it all and may He bend my heart toward full joy and the hope of my eternal hope. Remind yourself in the midst of difficulties and hardships — It Ain’t Calvary!
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2,3)