Our only granddaughter is now close to seven months old. As it should be, her room is fit for a princess. I have only one complaint (which is never taken seriously by the way) about her otherwise perfect environment—the music that plays on all her gadgets.
I am a musician and the canned melodies she has to listen to is no way to develop an ear for great music. So when she is a little older, Grandpa will have to introduce her to excellence in music. And when she has an ear for the best, she will not settle for less.
If you are used to the canned happiness that the world has to offer, let's look today at what God has to offer. Let's take a look at the best of the best—the kind of joy you simply cannot express in words. When you have a taste for the best, you will not settle for less.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6–9 NIV)
When we hear the word “trials” we want to turn and run in the opposite direction as fast as we can. But before jumping to conclusions, I ask you to empty your mind of preconceptions and just take a look at what God is saying to you about a joy unspeakable—an inexpressible and glorious joy.
God wants you to live with a happiness that is so excellent you simply cannot define it with words. There is another kind of happiness that wears off over time—the joy of a new house, a new purse, a new car, a new anything. But the kind of happiness I'm talking about never grows old. There is another kind of happiness that turns into familiarity—the joy of making new friends, the excitement of a new job, the thrill of promotion of any kind. But the kind of happiness I'm describing never becomes familiar—instead, growing in interest and intensity.
Indescribable joy comes from trusting an indescribable God. To trust Jesus, no matter what, is more valuable than gold. To say, “Lord, I trust You,” and then to act it out, even when the world around you is falling apart, fills you with the best happiness possible.
We do not have to die to experience (at least in part) the joy of Heaven. When we love Jesus by trusting Him through the opposition coming against us, we can begin to receive the salvation of our souls now—in this life. In other words, as we face our opposition together with Jesus, the part of us that will live forever begins to come alive and grow strong in this present moment—taking control over our human nature. The eternal part of us begins to dominate the part of us that will be left behind in the dust. Lest you think I'm just waxing poetic, this has a very practical application. Let me illustrate:
Monday was a day with many challenges. My air compressor quit working, and because it wasn't worth repairing I had to order a new unit. We had to work from our cell phones because someone in the area cut a fiber optic cable and we were without internet, fax, and our telephone system for most of the day. I had to deal with a customer service issue that pushed all my buttons. Sherrel had her share of opposition as well. And included in her challenges was a sore throat. But by the end of the day we had pushed through the resistance to do what we needed to do… through everything but the sore throat.
Sherrel went to bed with a sore throat that night and woke up with a sore throat the next morning. We had prayed over the situation but obviously hadn't heard clearly from the Lord. As we got out of bed she said something to the effect: “I don't feel like it, but we are going to go ahead and run this morning.” Of course running outdoors in the morning when the pollen is just hanging in the air is not what you would normally choose to do to help a sore throat. But run we did.
Afterwards, as we were eating breakfast I asked her about her throat, and she said it was 80‐90% back to where it should be. I told her, “You wouldn't have seen that kind of improvement if you'd stayed in bed.” Of course, I was just repeating what she already knew—even before we ran.
Why would running in the fog when the temperature was about forty‐five degrees help a sore throat? Well, it didn't help. What helped the sore throat was her defiant attitude. What helped her was not giving in to her weakness. Her attitude said in effect (my words): “Throat, you were made well by the blood of Jesus. And I will act like you are well—no matter how you say you feel. You will not stop me from running, because I trust what Jesus says more than I trust what you say. So shut up! You are just fine!” When she began to act on that declaration, God began to act on her weakness (the sore throat). In her weakness God began to show His power.
Sherrel and I encourage you to begin to allow God to demonstrate His power in your weakness. This is fun stuff—really fun stuff. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.
Don't submit to your weakness. Submit your weakness to Him. And let Him perfect His power in your weakness.
Don't give in to the opposition (physical or spiritual) confronting you—trying to suck every last bit of joy from you. Don't act according to your weakness (this opposition coming against you) but act according to His power. To watch God work His power through you, in all your weakness, and transform your life right before your eyes is an indescribable joy. But even better is to watch God work His power through you, in all your weakness, and transform the lives of others right before your eyes.
Let's talk briefly about Paul's “thorn in the flesh.” I encourage you to consider what may be a little different perspective on this story.
Satan sent a messenger to Paul to essentially beat up on him, in an effort to keep the people from showing any more regard for Paul's teaching than they already did. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7.) (You can read about this opposition coming against Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:24–29.)
Just like we ask God to get rid of all our opposition, Paul asked God three times to get rid of his as well—what he referred to as a “thorn in the flesh.” But God responded to Paul just as He responds to us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV).”
While at first glance this, to us, seems like a disappointing answer—hardly in line with the pursuit of happiness—Paul knew better.
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9b–10 NKJV)
I can think of no greater misery than to stand alone in my weakness. But I can think of no greater joy than seeing God perfect His strength in my weakness.
And when we have a taste of the joy of God showing Himself strong in our weakness, then we won't settle for anything less.
Have a good day,