It is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives, than 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; 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!
As we journey or sojourn in the earth wearing the label “Christ follower” and declaring that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, what testimony are we leaving behind?
Do people fear God’s wrath because they understand the wages of sin? … OR because we have led them to believe our God slays because He is petty and jealous over useless issues?
I see in the world much condemnation and judgment; very little mercy, grace, or life giving/life saving actions among those who say they believe in Christ and are filled with His Spirit. Perhaps because we know NOT what Spirit we are of!
Are our actions the actions of life givers? or do our actions condemn and bring judgment and death?
Be careful brothers/sisters in Christ. His purpose … is our purpose too! Kill the self righteousness that so consumes us … and ask God to place in us a love for the world that gives mercy and pours out grace!
I am praying that Our Father will teach us to open our eyes to truth! As we learn to rest in His righteousness, may we also learn to bring to this world a message of life. Praying that he will help us to remember the Spirit that fills us AND help us to remember that we are merely ambassadors. Praying that He will help us to remember that rejection of us is nothing that we should feel personally – this is a rejection of our Savior … a rejection of God. Praying that He will help us to remember , so that we will be prompted to show a “Christ Life” that the lost will desire!
I have a friend, a good friend, who trusts no one. She hasn’t always been this way, but she has grown callous over the years from people failing her. She has even turned away from fellowship with the Body of Christ because they have not met her needs or expectations. She is dear to me – I am concerned for her and I pray every day that she will see that there is only One who satisfies. As a wife, I know that I put a lot more faith in my husband at the beginning of our marriage than I should have; poor Lloyd had to wear a halo and a superhero suit almost every day. But one day he told me plainly that he was not interested in being my god or my hero — only my husband. We’ve been living in a joyful marriage ever since that realization came to us. Who are you depending on? Who do you expect to be there whenever you call (or text)? Who do you expect to be there when you cry? Who do you expect to defend you? Who do you expect to understand what you are feeling? When your friends disappoint you by not showing up; by not understanding; by not answering the phone; by saying just the opposite of what you need them to say — what is your reaction? We all spend a lot of our time disappointed in people because they don’t do what we need them to do; say what we need them to say; act like we need them to act. People just don’t meet our needs. In our frustrations, it is common to lash out at people – to cut them off from your ‘inner circle’; even to bad mouth them to others. Most of us do not kill people physically, but we do call people ‘dead to us’ because we have been failed by them. It is kind of funny when you think about it — we throw tantrums when others fail us as if we never fail anybody. Laughable! We all fail other people – every day! I don’t know where we all got it wrong, really. The Word of God is clear that He is our sufficiency; that everything that we need is in Him; that He will supply our needs; that He will not fail us. I don’t know where we all got the idea that other people – other fallen beings – other imperfect humans; would be able to satisfy our longings for anything. As for me, I will just go to the source – the The One who cannot fail; who will not forsake; who cannot lie. I will give myself no cause to desire what another person might have that I think I need, rather I will place my needs and desires before my God and King and await his answer and his provision. Before you decide that your friend/family member/co-worker is not worth it because of their failure; redirect yourself – consider going to The Source for your needs. He loves to meet the needs of His children – He is waiting for you to ask.
You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.--Romans 8:38-39