Sometimes I wonder why in the world we struggle through some of the issues we experience in life. Then I look at Scripture and realize how rarely we actually live like we believe what’s written there. Everything we need – everything – is right there in those precious pages!
Recently my son was sick. Steven tends to stress easily, and his stress level seems to climb greatly when he is tired or doesn’t feel well. So, while he was sick, his stress was high (and mine wasn’t too great either!). And, the stress was intensifying his symptoms and lengthening his time of sickness.
Doug and I tried and tried to encourage him to calm down and not worry. We tried to find ways to help him relax. Help him laugh (lots of Roadrunner, among other things!). Anything but stress about his symptoms or the fact that he didn’t feel well.
One day he complained about some of his symptoms, and Doug and I told him what he needed to do to feel better. He refused. Then he began whining again. And again. And again. Each time we told him what he needed to do. Each time he complained about how he felt and what he didn’t want to do. Needless to say, Doug and I got a little frustrated with him – he had within his grasp the resources necessary to feel better, but he fought us at every attempt to help him utilize the resources.
It seems so obvious when it is a child who doesn’t feel well, but how often do we turn our noses up at the resources God lays before us? The very things that will help us walk through this life with joy?
Consider Romans 5:1-5 with me:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 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.
Is this not a rich passage? An exceedingly basic look at these verses is enough to see a wealth of amazing treasure! We are fully justified! Not only that, but because of the justification, we have peace with God! Is that not tremendous? And yet, how often do we live that out? How often are our actions those of still-condemned prisoners instead of freed debtors who have also been credited with full righteousness to stand before God?!
And then there’s the hope. The hope that exists in the circle of what is brought about by the trials of this world. Look at it – we exult (rejoice) because we have hope in the glory of God. But, we don’t just hope when life is great – we hope in tribulation because of the results that tribulation will bring about, namely the perseverance and proven character that in turn produce hope. Do you get that? The tribulation produces hope, and yet at the same time we start off with hope because of the glory of God! Therefore, we can rejoice even as we are plowing headlong into tribulation – and then see our perseverance produce even stronger hope!
Now, tell me how many of us truly live that way? Can you imagine how many times, as we are crying out in our misery because of our tribulation, God says, “I’ve given you all you need to be full of My joy! You will be able to rejoice even in this if you will just heed My Word.” Instead, we are like my son, claiming that the resources before us are not what we want. Therefore we’ll just remain in our misery.
I don’t want to live like that. I want to live the Word. I want to utilize the resources provided in Scripture. May I begin by rejoicing in the hope of my God in this day, whatever the circumstances.