Thursday, July 26, 2012

Costly Joy

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ..
Hebrews 12:1-3

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways 
.James, 1:2-8

When I first read this verse, about the Joy Jesus had, I didn’t understand it. I was amazed. At His time of great need and vulnerability, He experienced Joy?

Along with another verse in Scripture, we are commanded to count all Joy, in our trials because they release attributes that work for our good.

 Yikes…these are not easy ones to understand.

It all seems upside down, doesn’t it? The world could never understand this explanation of Joy. I admit I didn’t either. Sometimes I still struggle.

This kind of joy is impossible to attain by self effort.  The ability, to partake in it, has to come from God. Himself.

Jesus knew what the cross would cost Him, yet He proceeded towards it. Why? …because your face and my face, were ever before Him. His Love and sacrifice for us, would give us eternal Life. To practice this kind of Love, it requires a posture of humility and a surrendered heart.

In addition, counting it ALL joy when we face trial and tribulations is for our greater good. The Lord knows we need to be strong and patient. We must gain experience in perseverance in this world. He doesn’t allow trials to punish us. Nor is He napping and not noticing. No…what seems like the worst things that could happen to us, can become a thing that the Lord will use to grow us up in Him.

 I can imagine a class, with the students giving their teacher their full attention. Their clean notebook papers are on their desk and their pens are poised. She asks, “What is Joy?” The answers vary. Some say things like gifts bring joy. A new car or unexpected money is a joyful experience. Some talk about getting married and having children.

She wants to show them a different facet of joy. She then tells them about Jesus’ attitude going to the cross. She tells them, as well, that we are to count it Joy, when we find ourselves in the middle of trials.

I see them scratching their heads. They look at each other and say “ Huh?”…Some even say it sounds pretty crazy to them. It just seems plain old wrong.

 One student says, “This makes about as much sense as feeling Joy, when you step into a pile of cow poop!”
Then she has them take out their Bibles. Just as the Bereans, they check this out for themselves.  Sure enough there it is. The Joy, Jesus experienced, before the cross, as well as Joy when we go through trials are good things.

Well, that burst a few bubbles.

Joy can be exhilarating and effervescent.

But what they learned that day is that Joy is sometimes costly.

Linda Maynard

1 comment:

Kerry Luddy said...

Thank you, Linda! I needed this reminder today. xx