It is relatively easy for a follower of Christ to be thankful and have joy when life is going as we think it should. When we are able to understand our circumstances and things are going well it doesn’t take a lot of will or effort to be thankful or to retain our joy. But did you know that Christ requires more from His followers than “good times joy“? He wants us, His followers, to have joy in spite of our circumstances. To be vessels of His love, mercy and grace even in the midst of our storms. He offers us a peace that truly does “pass all understanding.” His peace is possible during the worst storms. His peace is possible in the midst of any trial. His peace is possible when we find ourselves in the midst of any sorrow.
So why do we often lose the peace that passes understanding when we find ourselves engulfed in trouble, pain or sorrow? Where does it go? I believe it is a result of taking our eye off of the ONE who gives it to us and placing our eye on the circumstance itself. When we forget that nothing that touches our lives has slipped through God’s fingers first, we forget that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear! The Book of Job tells us that before Satan is able to bring any trial to a child of God, he must first have the Father’s approval.
Job 1:1-12 NIV 1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Satan was not allowed to do one thing more than God gave him permission to do! Was God allowing Satan’s abuse for some kind of sick pleasure? No! God knew what Job was able to endure and knew that He would turn it all for good in the end. He knows what each of us are able to handle. He knows what each of us are able to endure. He also knows how to turn what we in our own understanding think to be the most terrible of circumstances into something for good! He is not blindsided by our sorrows. He is not blinded by our circumstances and He at times allows them to accomplish His good.
When we truly understand that EVERYTHING that happens in our lives can be used for good if we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow Him to guide us through the circumstances we will be able to retain our joy! Our confidence is not to be in our circumstances and in what we see, our confidence is to be in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our confidence is not to be in receiving the answer we think we need, it is in knowing that God is not playing with our lives but is working out things according to His plan. He knows the beginning and the end and His love for us would not allow Him to shortcut our spiritual growth or curtail His plans for the future.
In the book of Romans, Paul explains it beautifully…
Romans 8:5-38 NIV 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If our life’s focus as Christians is to be blessed and live in comfort than we have not grasped the full truth of the gospel. God has called us to become disciples of Christ. To be led by the Holy Spirit and fulfill the purposes He has called us to. It is not to live according to the gospel of comfort. If we are true followers of Christ we will endure trials, temptations, sorrows and we are not to be surprised when we do. And when we do, we can know that He is working out something good in our lives and has a purpose for allowing it!
If you are going through a time of trial, sorrow or temptation right now, lean into Christ. Don’t try and understand it. Just continue to pray, seek God and trust Him. He has a plan. You may not understand it now and you may never understand it, but it is a good plan. He is always working things out for good to those that love Him and follow Him. Allow the Spirit of God to guide you through your journey with joy, true joy, the joy that comes from knowing and understanding that God will only allow what you are able to bear and He WILL work it out for good!
I have personally walked through many trials and sorrows in my life. My dad’s suicide, a miscarriage, the sudden loss of my son and the loss of other loved ones and most recently my husband’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer. I am not speaking glibly when I say that there is a true joy that can only be found in Christ. A joy that comes from knowing and trusting the lover of our souls. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is working your circumstances for good. Rest in that and look excitedly to each day knowing every day counts. As you lean into Him and allow Him to love on you and use you right where you are in your circumstances, great things will be accomplished for His Kingdom!