Wishing us more of Jesus!
Happy New Year wishes and blessings on social media today abound. Health, happiness, prosperity.
I am quick and eager to say "praise the Lord" and "thank you Lord" when I reflect on circumstances and a year that brought good health, prosperity, happiness - or other things we as humans think of when we think "blessing" And, of course, I wish these things for all those I love and care about.
But, what if this past year was or coming year is filled with bad health, loss of a job or career, broken relationships, disappointments - or other things we do not really wish on anyone?
Does this mean we are not blessed or cannot praise or thank the Lord?
Let me just say the answer is a big fat NO.
Of course it encourages our souls when we see God answering our prayers for healing, jobs, restoration ... turning things in our lives that are upside down - right side up. Trials are tough. Suffering is painful. Disappointments and shattered dreams rock our world. We don't wish these on ourselves or those we care about and love. It certainly would not be socially media proper to hit the like button or comment "praise the Lord" or "thank you Lord" in response to these trials or suffering. But...
What if God's way of blessing us is through poor health, losses, disappointments - or any variety of trials and sufferings?
What if God's way of blessing us is to not give us what we ask for?
I don't know about you, but I seem to easily forget that in this world, I WILL - WE WILL - have troubles (John 8:44) and so I shouldn't go around acting as though some strange thing is happening to me or to others when troubles and trials come (1 Peter 4:12). But, I have to admit I am always taken back a little when that next trial or trouble comes in my life and in the lives of those I care about. How I thank God for my praying friends and those who know God's Word and can come alongside of me and others and remind us in the midst of our trials of TRUTH.
Really, it's a miracle of God that anything good happens in this world. I mean, after all, the ruler of this world is our adversary, the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us, our families, marriages, children, churches, and communities (1 Peter 5:8). Sin and death reign here in this world.
Boy, it is SO important for me to remember where I am (the world) and to stop and get God's perspective on my (and your) troubles and trials.
As I write this, I am reminded of Joseph. He understood that all the bad that happened to him was meant for evil - God meant it for good in order to bring about His results and to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20). Wow. Big truth to get my mind around. Paul says that suffering for the sake of Christ is a gift. A gift? Seriously? He also says that all things work together for good - all things - all the good, the bad and the ugly things. James tells us that we are to count it all joy when faced with various trials and suffering because it proves our faith is real and produces endurance. These are the truths I need to remember immediately when those I love as well as myself are faced the various trials and suffering that will come. When God does not answer my prayers and work things out in a way that brings me less trouble, I need to immediately count it all joy and praise His Holy name.
In the face of trials and suffering, here is my "wish" or prayer for you and for me. It's from Philippians 3:7-11.
Lord, whatever things are gain to us, help us to experience what it means to count them as loss for your sake. More than that Lord, help us to understand and learn how to count all things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord. Grant within us a willingness to suffer the loss of all things and count them as rubbish so that we may gain Christ - be found in Him - not having a righteousness of our own through keeping the law, but through faith in Christ. Lord, help us to know You and the power of Your resurrection and the experience the fellowship of Your sufferings being conformed to Your death in order that we too may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Lord, you know we haven't obtained it yet, so please help us to forget what lies behind and reach with all our might and Yours forward to what lies ahead. Jesus, help us to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Wishing you more of Jesus!