Joy in Our Circumstances
“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.”” ~Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10b,c)
Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything–and I do mean everything–was taken away from him?
Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all… until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.
Oh, did I say “hopeless”? Hardly.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” ~C. S. Lewis
I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.
Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.
Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!
So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.
Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!
God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”(Hebrews 11:1).
Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith–“a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.
When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us–in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!
In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives–good or bad–are there to make us stronger? What if–bear with me here–we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” ~George Seaton
Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?
Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” ~Psalm 57:7