count it all joy

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2 (ESV)

Following on from my last post, I want to keep looking at this subject of joy.

It’s a natural reaction to be joyful when things are good. To praise God when everything is going well. When we experience success. Not failure.

But what happens when it all turns to crap? Do we blame God?

Do we throw our frustration at Him? Questioning His good judgement? Abusing His wisdom?

“Trials” are a necessary part of our growth.

I know from my running that stress is required for improved performance.

As we adapt to these small stresses, we are then better able to withstand the extreme ones.

It doesn’t necessarily feel good at the time. It may be uncomfortable, even painful.

But there is a greater purpose behind these “trials”.

And God has promised that He will never “leave [us] nor “forsake [us]” (Hebrews 13:5).

Kim+

prayer : that God the Father will “deliver [me] from evil” (Matthew 6:13)

action : trust God that He has my best interests at heart

When the Darkness Will Not Lift

I’m currently reading a short book by John Piper.

It’s a book that is particularly helpful to Christians suffering from sadness, anxiety and depression.

Not that I am personally in this situation. But it’s a useful tool to help those who are.

We know that joy is a “fruit of the spirit”. One of many.

It’s part-and-parcel of our justification although, like fruit, it grows with our sanctification.

But, for many people, their life can feel devoid of joy.

They sink to the bottom of a big, black whole of unhappiness that they’re powerless to dig themselves out of.

We need to understand that despite being forgiven, we’re still sinners. We remain imperfect.

Yet Piper says that we should “fight for joy like a justified sinner” 1

This joy is a gift from God. It’s ours for the taking.

And any guilt we feel must be mitigated by the knowledge that God’s “grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

For Christ’s “power is made perfect in [our] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When we stumble, when we fall, Christ will grab a hold of our outstretched hand and haul us out of the mire (Psalms 69:14).

To then place us on solid ground.

Full of “gutsy guilt”.

Gutsy guilt means learning to live on the rock-solid truth of what happened for us when Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again from the dead.” 2

Therefore, no matter what our circumstances, “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Piper’s words, and those of God, are an immense encouragement when we find ourselves in the darkness of despair.

Piper’s exhortation is to ultimately rely upon God’s “firm foundation” (2 Timothy 2:19). Despite our emotions and ever changing moods.

For God does not change. He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Kim+

1. Piper, John. “When the Darkness Will Not Lift.” Crossway Books, 2009.04.03. iBooks.

2. ibid: Piper, John (emphasis added)