Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Vessel of Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4.

This passage must be framed around the definition of biblical joy.  Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of every detail, the quiet confidence that everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in spite of the circumstances. 

Yesterday I met my daughter half way between college and home for breakfast.  She and her boyfriend had plans of an engagement after graduation in the spring.  Out of the blue she received a phone call from him ending their relationship.  This relationship has been a healthy one with a guy who has a wonderful heart.  Unfortunately, he has begun to question his feelings forcing them to be apart.  Three years ago another boyfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident and two extremely unhealthy relationships followed.  It has been a long journey and continues to be.

Although devastated, her words yesterday reminded me of this passage and the definition of biblical joy.  As tears streamed down her cheeks, she commented that she has been through so much before age 23.  But as she looked up, those beautiful green eyes held peace instead of fear…assurance instead of panic…and trust in God regardless of the outcome.  She is taking everything to God each night and has the confidence that He will move her beyond this.  The trials she has endured at such an early age have developed an amazing ability to persevere, affording her great spiritual growth.

There are so many people on the other side of this screen whose lives have been devastated, dreams seem dashed and hopes have vanished.  God has a remedy for everyone’s pain and a plan for everyone’s future.  There is but a thin veil between heaven and earth, and as Christians the goal is exiting this world and entering into eternity with God.  As we walk towards that veil, shedding more and more of our fleshly covering we develop a more righteous and lasting garment.  Hopefully, we become mature and complete in our faith with each trial.  Through spiritual maturity we can face the things that break our hearts and replace them with the One who promises more.  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature should take such a view of things’ Phi 3:13-14.

Biblical joy keeps us moving forward instead of allowing our emotions to keep us stuck in our pain.  Our prize is not of this world, but biblical joy can be the vessel that gets us there.

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