Are there trials in your life today? Are they dragging you down, filling you with dread and worry? Take heart! Jesus stands ready to bring you joy despite your circumstances.
BODY & SOUL
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 (NIV)
I am not a big fan of brick steps. One of the effects of my degenerative retinal disease is loss of contrast. The descent down brick steps always makes me a bit nervous. I have great difficulty judging where one step ends and another begins. I just need more contrast.
Contrast highlights the difference between things, allowing us to distinguish their unique qualities. Contrast gives us perspective.
It strikes me that contrast offers a unique perspective on joy. I wonder if any of us fully comprehend the true meaning of joy until we have experienced the tragedy of loss. It seems that most of us fail to comprehend the concept of joy until we reach the end of things. Until our hearts are broken, until our selfish pursuits reach their end, until our world falls apart, it is just too easy to depend on ourselves, on our own initiative, on our own plans. But when tragedy strikes and all seems lost, we hit rock bottom and we need God. We need Him in a way we have never needed Him before. We need His love. We need His hope, for we are utterly lost without it.
When we finally go all in, put all our trust in God’s magnificent love for us, we begin to rest in His provision, His protection, His power. We stop trying to fix it all and start believing that He can.
The more we rest in the assurance of God’s faithfulness, the more thankful we become. Instead of blundering along blindly through our days, we begin to see His blessings unfold all around us. We notice the beauty of His creation. We pay attention to the way He is providing for our needs. We are thankful for the good people He has placed in our path. We see the kindness and generosity of our neighbors, see the beauty in their smiles. We thank God for our spouses even if they are not perfect. We rejoice over our children even when they make us fret.
When we come to know Jesus, really know Him, we find we have a different perspective. Life takes on new dimensions. Hardship and loss are a part of life, just as laughter and joy have their place. Joy is Christ’s gift to us, wrapped in His marvelous love, delivered through His amazing grace.
Perhaps it is the heartache of living through tragedy that makes us cherish the good things of life. Perhaps the tears of loss cleanse our eyes, bringing joy into focus.
When we embrace Christ’s love for us, joy is planted in our hearts. Trust provides the soil for joy to take root. Thankfulness provides the living water to make joy blossom within us. Perhaps adversity fertilizes the ground around us, preparing the soil for its growing season.
Yes, I think a little contrast allows us to see things clearly. Living through adversity alters our perspective, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. When we seek to handle adversity without God, we find ourselves mired in the pit of despair. But when we choose to grow our roots down deep in the soil of God’s marvelous love for us, we yield a bountiful harvest of the beautiful fruit of joy.
When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth— that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself. – Ephesians 3:14,16-18 (TLB)
O Lord Jesus, thank You for the fruit of joy that comes from knowing You. Help us place our trust in You alone. May we be thankful for the happy days and the hard ones. May we find joy, no matter our circumstances. May our roots grow down deep in the soil of Your marvelous love and may our joy blossom!
In the Marvelous Name of Jesus, we pray,