Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)
TITLE: Suffering Does Not Diminish The Joy Of The Lord
By Doug Laird
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Such an outlook towards life in general, and acknowledging the significance of each and every day that we are given to glorify Him, would keep our priorities straight enabling us to daily experience “…the peace of God which transcends all understanding…(Phil 4:7 NIV)”. There is no greater joy.
All of us have gone or will go through periods of time when nothing seems to be going right. It seems that no matter what we do, we find that we are not too far into our daily routines before the realities of life begin to chip away or even crush all hope of our day being anything close to being one in which we feel like rejoicing. During such periods of time, just to have things not get any worse would be an improvement in itself.
All of us can appreciate the “mountaintop” experiences of our walk with God. In such times, we are sensitive to His presence is an undeniable and personal way. Like Moses, however, we were not called to remain on the mountaintop, but to descend and glorify Him in the realities of everyday life.
If the joy we have cannot be sustained as we “ also rejoice in our suffering (Romans 5: 3 NIV)”, then the source of our joy is not from God, but from the world whose peace and contentment is based on circumstances.
Human reasoning would have us believe that one cannot simultaneously experience joy and suffering. An understanding of what the joy of the Lord consists of reveals to us how this is possible.
The joy of the Lord does not call for the wearing of a smiling mask of denial over a broken heart. We do not become emotionless zombies as a result of becoming Christians.
Christians are just as vulnerable to be hurt as anyone else in this world. In fact, grace orientation increases our vulnerability. It is how the Christian disciple chooses to respond to adversity and injustice that makes him/her “different” than the unbelievers in his/her personal periphery.
The joy of the Lord is neither based nor diminished by the circumstances of life or on the receipt or loss of tangible blessings.
If the joy of the Lord were based on such things as these, we would have good reason to feel that God has broken His promise to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5).
The joy of the Lord goes way beyond environmental, circumstantial and materialistic prosperity that the world has to offer.
In fact, the only way that many of us can be sure that we ever had the true joy of the Lord is by losing or to be willing to lose many of the things that we thought were the source of our happiness (Matt. 19: 21). God is a jealous God (James 4: 5) and will not share His glory or place of priority with anyone or anything (Luke 14: 26).
Health, wealth, positions, possessions, and personal relationships are all subject to change (and usually do), but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13: 8 NIV). It is because of this attribute of immutability that we can develop and experience the true joy of the Lord that cannot be diminished.
Like a child who looks over the audience for the approving face of an observing parent, the joy of the Lord comes from a disciple knowing that he/she has pleased and glorified Him, no matter what the circumstances or challenge may be.
As God and things of God take their proper place of priority and our personal agendas cease to exist (Matt. 26:39), it will no longer matter to us if the day that the Lord has made is to be one of overt blessings or one of adversity and loss, as long as it fulfills God’s will.
It is only then that we will be just as capable of rejoicing in the Lord during days of suffering as we are in the days of blessing. The true joy of the Lord comes out of the desire to please Him wherever, whenever, and however He chooses.
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