Saturday, July 17, 2010

PURE JOY - PART 2


The JOY of The Lord
Is Your Strength
Nehemiah 8:10



As worshipers, how can we consider the trials of life PURE JOY? This challenging concept is easiest to grasp when we remind ourselves that the singlemost important desire God has for us is that we each become, over time, a truly LOVING PERSON. So can we WORSHIP (which is giving God all that we can with all we are) in hard times, because we can be confident that God wants the best for us, and we understand that all which comes our way in this life can help shape us into more loving people. In time, we can understand this axiom so deeply that we can strive to do what James urges us "Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

First, hardship and suffering are part of life this side of Eden, and it does not surprise God when pain strikes us. We live in a fallen world. Jesus knew this. He told us how to prepare for tough times, such as when thieves break in and steal our stuff (Matthew 6:19). Not "if" but "when." Jesus knew the nature of human existence would mean that the things we hold most dear would be subject to all manner of bandits.

Secondly, God is near us in times of trouble (Isaiah 57:15), maybe even nearer then than during good times. This is not because God moves away from us during the good times, but because we often move away from Him. It's a truism that when things are going well for us we often become less dedicated and less passionate about staying close to God through prayer, reading His Word, and living a contemplative life. But when life brings us grief or pain or discouragement, we learn how God uses the "bread of adversity" and the "water of affliction" (Isaiah 30:20) to grow our faith, increase our wisdom, and expand our capacity to love.

Finally, we often want answers and explanations during seasons of turmoil, which is understandable, but God gives us something far mre evident than in the Old Testament account of the story of Job. After Job had lost nearly everything dear to him, he came to realize that God was there all the time, listening to Job's loudest prayers and to his quietest sobs. Everyone around him, including his wife, had told Job to curse God for what had happened. Job asked God time and again why he had to endure so much pain and anguish. He wanted answers. And what Job learned is that God, the Creator of the universe, understood his pain and ached for him. In the end, Job was changed because the nature of God: God loved him deeply and was there with him.

Today, God so much wants to be close to each one of us. What happened between God and Job is a beautiful example of what we most have to offer others who are going through life's hard times - our presence, compassion and empathy. when we truly understand the dimensions of what's happening when we face life's challenges, when we realize how much God cares and how high his hopes for us are, we can worship wholeheartedly even in times of hurting.
(an extract from: The Worship Answer Book by Ricky Muchow)

Rejoice In The Lord Always!
TPWC

2 comments:

Albert Kang said...

When the things of this world and circumstances no longer control us, our souls are then free to take the flight of joy with the Lord.

The Praise And Worship Connection said...

Amen! Thank you Ps Albert for your comment.