One thing that is clearly evident as one realizes the responsibilities of life is that it isn’t always a cakewalk. There are bills to pay, jobs to work, cars that break down, things that need to be replaced, loss that happens, sickness that besets us, friends that turn on you, as well as a vast accompaniment of other possibilities that are typically viewed in a negative light. As a basic way to sum this up one might say the world keeps spinning regardless of what is going on in your life. For many this brings a level of sadness or disappointment to the daily routine based solely on the situation they find themselves in.
Admittedly I have done this many times over the course of my life. I get the flu and grumble, or have to pay taxes and grumble, or have to make a deposit for college and grumble. If we’re all honest we have those things in our life that make us grumble, make us upset, and make us think in a negative light. However, in recent times of reflection over the past few months I’ve been slowly warming up to a grand realization that makes all these things pale in comparison to its truth, and that is that God is totally sovereign!
Psalm 115:3 “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases”
This may seem like an elementary realization, and indeed in many ways I’d agree, but also I think this reality requires far more attention on our parts. If we fully believe in the vastness of God’s sovereignty it begins to alter our perspective on everything that happens, from the weather outside, to the social groups we're in, to the trials that we face. God is Lord of all!
Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
You may be asking why this is of any significance in the light of counting it all as joy, or how can this change anything in my life. My response is that it changes everything by freeing it up to be counted as joy! Having a financial struggle can be counted as joy, sickness can be counted as joy, persecution can be counted as joy, truly any trial or hardship can be counted as joy when we fully embrace the sovereignty of God!
James 1:2-4 “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”
Now if you’d allow, I’d like to make a distinction here. When saying count it all as joy that very well seems to imply that it should be seen as “good” when I’m sick, hurting, abused, or struggling. To that I would say no, and let me explain why. God is sovereign and good, however there are things that He says are not good, like sickness, murder, sin. So getting a sickness of some sort is not a good thing. However!! If in that sickness you turn your full heart to the Lord and delight in Him regardless of your circumstance and don’t question His authority and sovereign wisdom over your life then you can take that sickness and count it as joy to increase your patience, your endurance, and your hope in the things to come in Heaven! When this happens you can then see how God can and will use all sorts of these situations and hardships for your good.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”
Truly their is so much more to say about this, and I'd love to do so if given the time, but for now I would like to finish with this. For those who someday desire to go on the missions field or be involved in evangelism or pastoral ministry to any degree, as non-spoken and sometimes non-practiced as this is, I’d encourage you to embrace suffering as a means of fellowship with Christ! Not because my mind is twisted or weird, but truly because the Word of God says it is to be counted as such! And if you let it, that can be one of the most incredibly amazing joys you will experience on this side of life!
1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy”
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