Searching for joy in all the wrong places

In case you’re wondering how my week has been, I’ll tell you. It has been really really really hard. Here’s a couple of reasons why: I’m behind in my classes, I don’t get enough sleep, I work all day and do homework all evening, I wish I saw my friends more, I wish I loved my Fiance better. I could keep going, but I’ll spare you, because couldn’t we all keep going? Is there really ever a season of our lives where we can’t make a list of all the things we wish we could change?

The answer, I think, is no. There will always be something to fix or change or improve. More sleep to get, less food to eat, more hours spent running, fewer hours spent stressing. But what if the real issue isn’t our less-than-perfect circumstances, but rather our less-than-perfect attitudes? Because let’s be honest, when one frustrating circumstance improves, another one will inevitably arise. It’s a never-ending cycle of wanting more than we have and justifying our frustration when we have less than we expect.

So where do we go from here, ‘cause that sucks right? Well, I’m not entirely sure. But, for Christians, I at least have some Biblical input, and here it is.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

I know, I know. You’ve all seen this verse plastered on christian home decor and painted on church walls. This is one of THOSE verses. You know, one of those verses that we all kind of know because we see it everywhere, yet very few of us ever take the time to really understand its depth. The more I study the Bible and read about Paul, the more I’m convicted of my dissatisfaction.

Paul must have just really hacked off the Roman authorities. No matter what you did to him, he rejoiced. HE REJOICED. He didn’t simply scrape-by or get through the day. HE REJOICED. He rejoiced in suffering, persecution, living on mission, prison, and even death. Any situation that Paul ended up in, he REJOICED. But why? How? How can you possibly find reason to rejoice in all of the despicable things Paul lived through?

Because Paul’s ultimate purpose in life was to give God glory, and that meant giving God glory in each and every circumstance he was placed in.

Paul rejoiced because he trusted the scriptures that promise that God fights for the good His glory and His people. Paul rejoiced, because to him, every situation he was in was an opportunity to make Christ known. For Paul, living meant proclaiming the name of Christ, which he took great joy in. Dying meant Paul gained the joy of being in Heaven and spending eternity worshipping God. You see, both living and dying were something to rejoice in, because Paul knew he was to use both in order to give God glory. He rejoiced, not in his cirsumstance, but in God recieving glory and praise THROUGH his circumstance…whether that was in life, death, health, persecution, or suffering.

As believers, we typically do a good job of rejoicing when we tangibly see God answer our prayers. But the thing is, we aren’t only called to rejoice when we experience God’s blessings. We are called to rejoice at ALL times.

You see, we’ve gotten the purpose of Christianity all messed up. The Bible doesn’t say that being a Christian will lead to prosperity and happiness and financial security and ease. In fact, many of the most committed Christ followers in the Bible suffered brutal deaths.

Loving Christ well and devoting their lives to God’s glory did not end in financial security and a life free of trial. BUT, it did end in Christ’s name being magnified and God’s glory being revealed, and that was the point. That was the purpose of it all.

Does God bless his children? Yes. Are those blessings sometimes financial? Yes. Are they sometimes in the form of good health? Yes. I’m not saying that those blessings are bad, in fact those are GREAT things that the Lord can and does use for His glory. Money, good health, good cars, and nice homes are all GOOD things that the Lord sometimes blesses his children with. Our error comes when we EXPECT those blessings.

So if God doesn’t promise to make my life easy, what does he promise? Here are just a few of the things God DOES promise:

God will supply your needs-Philippians 4:19

God is working for the good of his children-Romans 8:28

God is the supplier of joy-John 15:11

God made you intentionally and purposefully-Psalm 139:13

Your faith is PERFECTED in Christ-Hebrews 12:1

Your salvation is SECURE in Christ-Ephesians 4:30

You are CHOSEN-1 Peter 2:9

The Lord may not promise to give you money and cars and homes, but he promises eternal life and peace and joy and identity, and that’s a pretty big deal. Let me say that again. The God of the UNIVERSE intentionally creates us, then he CHOSES us, supplies our needs, Fights FOR us and promises to NEVER leave us.

Oh, okay.

We’re called to rejoice despite our circumstances, and that is stinking hard. But it’s possible when we know the character of our God and when we trust in his promises. When the purpose of our life is to glorify God, our circumstances become less paralyzing and our purpose becomes more magnified, and that my friends, is something to rejoice in.

There is always joy to be had in being a follower of Christ. Just ask Paul (see New Testament).

Struggle pretty, friends.
-R

 

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2 thoughts on “Searching for joy in all the wrong places

  1. Thanks so much for this post! Really needed to hear this! The line “For Paul, living meant proclaiming the name of Christ, which he took great joy in” stuck out to me! I really need to rethink where I am getting my “joy” from.

    Like

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