Saturday, April 19, 2014


The church today so often presents the gospel as a means to blessing. From the extreme "prosperity gospel" to the more moderate "God wants to make us happy" version, salvation is presented as a way to make our lives better according to the values of the world.

Actually, this contradicts much of the New Testament in which the theme of "suffering" appears far more often than the theme of "happiness!" In fact, the word "happy" or "blessed" is often used in connection with suffering, reproach or enduring for the sake of Christ! (See James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 3:14 and 1 Peter 4:14 as examples.)

The Bible does speak a great deal about trials and tribulations:

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1 Peter 4:12-14

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

As we read these verses, we cannot help but notice that God clearly tells us that we will have trials - but also encourages us to BE JOYFUL during these times!

Joyful - when I am going through a hard time - really?

Yes - and the reason is not that we are supposed to "keep a stiff upper lip" or "toughen up" during these times. Why then should we be joyful in these times?

▶︎ Peter tells us to "REJOICE." Why?

"that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
God is not absent, nor does He forget how much we suffer or are mocked for His name sake!

"the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
It is because we do belong to Christ that we are suffering - not because we are not highly regarded  
by God or are being punished for being out of God's will!

▶︎ James writes to "COUNT IT ALL JOY." Why?

"KNOWING that the testing of your faith produces patience."
James 1:3
It is because we KNOW something that we should "count it all joy." 

▶︎ Jesus tells us to "BE OF GOOD CHEER." Why?

" of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33
We can "be of good cheer" because Jesus has overcome the world! 

We are commanded to be joyful in trials and tribulations based on faith in certain facts!
1) God is in control. He is acutely aware of our troubles and will reward us now and in the life to
2) We often suffer because we have God Spirit! The enemy most attacks those whom God loves or
    are a danger to him!
3) We know that the testing of our faith is producing patience! God is not allowing us to be tested    
    for no reason! The knowledge that the test will produce godly character in us can inspire us to   
    press on!
4) Jesus has overcome the world! Whatever you are going through right now - God is in control and 
   already has a solution for it! He will take up your cause even when you can't or don't know what to 

These commands to be joyful are not encouragements to be in denial. God never tells us to be emotionally detached or to be calm, cool and strong all the time. There are seasons which we may have good reason to cry or grieve. Sometimes those emotions can be very strong and seem overwhelming! God is not telling us to pretend they do not exist!

He is, however, communicating reasons to rejoice. He knows full well it is an act of faith and does not expect us to walk around with a pretentious "Christian smile" saying "Praise the Lord" all the time! There are times to cry and laugh and to share our pain and pray with others that we can trust!

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...
A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1and 4

The Christian life is not a life free from suffering, pain or trials and tribulations but I do know that God delivers us through each one and will will continue to deliver us!

Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

Just know today that God is aware of your pain and is close to you in your trials!

1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob and He who formed you, O Israel:
  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name;
   You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
   When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
   Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God."
Isaiah 43:1-3

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