Perspective; February 11, 2023

1 Thessalonians 1:6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

The joy of the Lord doesn’t depend on circumstances. The Bible is full of examples, and we hear about many even today, where people are filled with what seems to the world like a completely illogical joy. That’s because people who know Jesus, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, don’t live by this world’s logic. Once we have tasted the spiritual dimension, the glory of the love of God, if you will, then as the chorus says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” It’s not that we don’t pay attention to the physical realm or that we think it’s unimportant, but rather that we understand that the things of God are far more important. To be honest, it’s difficult and even rare to maintain that perspective 100%. The things of this world can be very effective at demanding our attention. And frankly, the easier we have it in this life, the harder it is to focus on the next. That’s why believers undergoing active persecution are often far more vibrant and joyful than believers in, say, the US or Japan. However, that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless for believers in “easy” locations. Paul’s famous statement about being able to handle anything included “easy” stuff too. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13) We just need to work a little harder to keep our focus on what is really important, instead of on all the distractions that surround us.

I try to keep track of persecution around the world, and some of it is quite horrendous. More believers were martyred in the 20th Century than in the previous 19 put together, and the 21st Century is at an even higher pitch. At the same time, I feel like I have experienced no persecution for my own faith and have lived in comparative luxury, even though my income isn’t high enough to have to pay taxes on it. I am blessed on all levels, and have no excuse not to be joyful! Even so, things like a broken wrist, and even quite trivial things, can set me off and make me grumpy. How shallow! When the Lord has told me personally to rest, relax, and rejoice, I have no excuse not to do so! I am experiencing healing in my wrist day by day, for which I am quite grateful, but at the same time, as I mentioned to my wife this morning, I’m tired of pain, even though my accident was just over two weeks ago. That makes me sharply aware that I am far from perfect, but I have the comfort of knowing that God is still working on me. (Philippians 1:6) I can’t do it on my own, but as Paul said, I can do it through Him who gives me strength.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You indeed for the healing I’m experiencing, and that I can type with much more freedom now than even a few days ago. That’s just in time for the article I’m to write that’s due by the end of this month! I pray that I would make the use that You intend of everything You bring my way, whether ability or opportunity or trial or anything else, so that Your purposes may be accomplished in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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