Experiencing Joy in the Midst of Suffering

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Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NET Bible)

One of my favorite things about my relationship with the Lord is the JOY that He gives me; the joy that I feel coursing through my veins; joy that is palpable and evident and real.  It is His joy and I am so thankful to Him that He shares it with me.

I appreciate it so much more when it is felt during times of difficulty, pain and suffering.  At times like this, His joy makes me want to rejoice! 😄

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NASB)

I am reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, in which Corrie eloquently describes the dual-existence of joy in the midst of suffering.  In this true story that is a “must-read,” you’ll learn that Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their elderly father were all arrested and sent to prison for hiding a group of Jewish people in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Soon after their father’s untimely death, Corrie and Betsie spent time in the notorious women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”  ― Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

Such a marvelous book! ❤️😁

The Ten Boom family could see the true light in the midst of this dark world.  And as their brothers and sisters, as Jesus followers, as believers in the gospel of grace, we also know the truth!

The truth has set us free, and yet we are stuck on this earth temporarily.  So, while we are here, let’s be patient; let’s hang in there; let’s not give up.

We all have pain, we all have suffering, and we all have difficulties to varying degrees.  But we also have hope.  Not only the hope of our future life in heaven, but the hope that is alive for us today:  the kingdom of God in our very hearts.  A hope with promise; that when we have persevered through tribulations, God will use the pain we have endured to reveal more of His love to us!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NASB)

We are nothing like God

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6, 35-36, NASB.)

Do you love your enemies?  God does.  He loves His enemies because He is kind.

“For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Verse 35)

Is all of your behavior good?  God’s is.  He always does good.  Our attempts at doing good, on the other hand, are called “dead works” (Hebrews 6 and 9.)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14, NASB)

Are you a merciful person?  Are you full of mercy and compassion and forgiveness toward others?  Well, hallelujah!  God is!  He is the only One who is merciful.  That is good news because we really need His mercy!

The first verses listed above, from Luke 6, are part of the famous “Beatitudes,” a.k.a., The Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, trying to get them to see that they needed Him as their Messiah, their Saviour.  But the fact is that they had already rejected Him and at that point in the story, they were already planning to destroy Him, to do away with Him.  Why?  Because, according to them, He “worked” on the Sabbath Day.

Yes.  How dare Him, right?  He actually walked through a grain field and allowed His disciples to pick wheat and eat it.  In addition, He healed a man who had a withered hand . . .  on the Sabbath day!!!  Shocking, huh?

The Pharisees were like, “You evil unrighteous person!  You picked wheat!  You healed a man!”  . . . uh?  Okay.

It’s ridiculous to us, of course.  But to them, it was audacious and wrong and against the rules!!!

And yet, all of us, at one time or another were just like the Pharisees.  Blind, rule-following, religious, prideful jerks who rejected Jesus and saw no need for His love, His goodness, His mercy.

But . . . I can take a deep breath, take a sigh of relief and rejoice in His mercy to me.

“He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)

I can be thankful today and every day, no matter what my circumstances are, because He has saved me by faith through grace.

I just want to praise Him today and remember that I am NOTHNG like Him.  Neither are you, if you’re honest, and that is good news!  Because He is God, and we are not.

 

 

How Easy it is to Get Deceived

The age of 27 is a turning point for some; it brings with it a certain amount of sobering awareness.  Many people turn their life around at age 27; this happened to actor/comedian Russell Brand.  (He discusses his recovery from opiod addition with Dr. Jordan Peterson in an interview found here: https://youtu.be/r2S58rH0PAw )

It seems that the age of 27 is often the period when a person chooses to live or die.  Think of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, just to name a few, who all died by OD’ing at the age of 27.

I am 27 years old today.  Today is my spiritual birthday; I received life 27 years ago during an “altar call” at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. Not everyone knows the day and the hour that they got saved, but I can say with 100% certainty that I choose life on 9/1/91. 😊

So now that I am at that critical age of 27, I want to continue to choose life.  I want to turn away from foolishness; I want to live a prudent life.

O naive ones, understand prudence; And, O fools, understand wisdom. Proverbs 8:5

But, some might say, “Lisa, you’re a Christian, you’re a child of God; therefore, you’re not a fool; you’re not naive.”

Wrong.

I spent 15 years being deceived by Churchianity. I spent those years being double-minded and “schizophrenic,” in a spiritual sense.  I mixed the Old Covenant with the New Covenant and lived a life of confusion and, not only that, spent 10 of those years teaching my children falsehood!  Now that is a serious matter!  I am seeing the repercussions of this now more than ever, and talking openly to my kids about it. For example, on a long hike recently, my 21-year-old daughter kindly explained how the false teaching of Christian patriarchy negatively impacted her emotional state as a young girl.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Eve lately, and have been feeling a lot of empathy for her.  She was certainly a child of God, yet she acted foolishly.  Naively.

Adam and Eve were born with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, and yet they became deceived by Satan; they believed falsehood.  And yet they knew the Lord personally!  They had heard the truth spoken directly from the Lord Himself.

“But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  Genesis 2:17

Of course, it is recorded that Eve was the one who was deceived, while Adam sinned deliberately, with his eyes wide open.  And though it was extremely tragic, to say the least, that Eve was deceived . . . I can understand how that could happen.  Satan’s speech was so persuasive!  Everything he said seemed so logical.  She truly thought she was doing the right thing.

Sure, let’s go ahead and grow in wisdom and have our eyes be opened!  Thumbs up, man!

Though God does sometimes rescue us from our own messes, our own personally created disasters . . . sometimes He doesn’t.  In this case, He didn’t come to the rescue.  He didn’t swoop down and stop Eve from eating that piece of fruit.  He didn’t stop Adam from doing so either.  He allowed them to totally and completely reject Him.

As a woman, I have nothing but empathy for Eve.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13

Now that I’m 27 years old in the Lord, I want to turn a corner; I want to choose life; I want to press forward into maturity.  I want to live in such a way that I don’t expect God to rescue me from the messes I make; from the personal disasters that I create.  I want to grow up and be a mature adult; someone who doesn’t get deceived.

How does this happen?  How can we grow up and become wise, discreet, prudent adults in the Lord?  We trust in Him.  We rely completely on Him.  We rest in His finished work.   We let Him be who He is:  the God who will be who He will be.  And He is so different from us.  He is a mighty and fierce warrior who does not waver when it comes to the truth.  He is the truth.

Let us turn to Him.