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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Joy Is Not Always Fun

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  James 1:2-3

Listen, I don't want to be a Christian if it's not going to be joyful and a splendid way to live with good things happening.

Did somebody promise you that the Christian life would be a walk in the park, a real picnic?  I know you hear a lot about how joyous you are supposed to be when you are a Christian, praising God and looking happy and getting the best seats for the show, but there is another side to it.

Well, it can't be very hard.  After all, you don't do anything but go to Church.

No, that's not quite right either.  You still have to make a living, work, you know, and send your kids to school, and buy groceries, and pay bills.  You face all the same demands as any other person in this world.  There is disease, disorder, and disaster that comes on all people, and it will come to you too.

Then being a Christian doesn't really benefit me.  Man, what a crock!  I thought you had a gimmick here.  I've had financial  problems and illness.  If God doesn't relieve me of that, what's the use?

You need to read all of it--the part about perseverance.  Sometimes you have to tie a knot in the rope and hang on.  But it's really more than that, too.  You hang on because you believe that God loves you and has given you grace to endure to the end.  There is the joy part too.  Joy in the love you have for family and friends is still a blessing of God.  There is joy in knowing that Jesus' death relieved you of sin.  All you have to do is confess to him, and he takes the sin to himself.

I guess so.  But man, that takes a long time.  I need help now.

Yeah, I know.  It all started with instant coffee, now we want everything instant.  God doesn't work that way.  He is in this thing for the long haul.  He is patient so he can see results in you, and learning perseverance may be your first lesson.  You have to keep on keeping on.  

I don't see that he has put a limit on how long to persevere.

That's true.  And I'll give you another hint   When one is over and you have learned the lesson he wanted to teach in that trial, you may find there is another one maybe even worse.  But by that time, you may also find the joy