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Below is the 3rd Chapter of “Authentic Living”
Christian Song Writer Uncle Charlie, wrote a song that many 90 christian kids would remember named, “J is for Jesus”, you can search for it on youtube. “J is for Jesus, O is for others, Y is for you, you, you”. In order to truly have joy in life we must put Jesus first, others second and ourselves last. Jesus said “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:30. If anything, it’s a call to be a servant. Servant to God and servant to others.
The bible tells us to have joy in the bad times, “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)
Looking on the Bright Side
The best way I can explain “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” are the words ‘Looking on the Bright Side’. Horrible things happy in life. Death, Unemployment, Divorce, Doctor Diagnosis are just a few of a million things that people are going through.
Reason to Consider Joy in Hardship
Growth – “testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete”. Homelessness helped me manage money better. It also led me to take a leap of faith into joining the Marine Corps. It helped me to cling and trust God more each day as the nights went by. It changed my mind about homelessness. It opened my heart to the broken system of our society when it comes to the topic of homelessness.
I know that doesn’t do much justice to the topic of being joyful in the midst of suffering. This isn’t something that you just do. This is a skill that you learn. You have to learn to be joyful when bad storms hit your life. If you buy an axe and put it in your storage room at your house and waited until the winter to cut wood, your going to be struggling to use that axe the right way. Your going to in the cold, for longer than you have to try to chop wood. That is why before winter comes, you practice chopping wood, so you become skillful at it.
Having joy in job- lost, divorce, death or whatever else may come on your life’s path starts with having joy when smaller events happen, your boss gets upset with you, your wife or husband starts showing signs of divorce, which means marriage counseling should be considered soon or when your cat dies. Learn to pursue joy in those small events.
How do you pursue Joy? It goes back to J is for Jesus, O is for Others and Y is for you. Serving both God and Others will bring joy to yourself and may even restore that broken marriage relationship if your serving your spouse. Serving God in these hard times is an act of Trusting God through the Storm. This will also build your relationship with God, making it even stronger in the midst of hardship.
Growing Like a Baby
Like a baby, the baby grows and keeps growing bigger, stronger and gains in knowledge. Well, in a biblical understanding, when we come to Christ, in the start we are babies, we grow little by little and stronger spiritually. At the end we will be mature in our faith, as a baby is mature when it becomes an adult. It’s not rules, but an order plan, which God himself design, to help his children grow.
Now you can reject to grow, but you’re either grow or die. If a baby doesn’t eat, it doesn’t grow, it will die. In the biblical understanding, we must read our Bible, the Word of God, Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, – “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
In All Things
God wants to know us more and wants us to know him more. Like a husband and wife know each other so closely. Our God is a God who wants to know you and have a personal relationship with you. So have joy, because, no matter what, as long as you’re following God, then everything will work out great at the end. Romans 8:28 – “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.” “in all things”, that includes death, divorce, doctor diagnosis, unemployment or whatever you might be facing.
In All Things God will use your mess and turn it into your message. Your test that your going through will be a testimony of what God brought you through. So have Joy. Lift up your eyes and trust in God. As the writer of Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” In the middle of the pain and hardship the writer proclaims their help comes from the Lord! Are you proclaiming that in your hardship?
Not Just Hearing, but Acting
I can preach it, but it is so hard to do. God want us doing it, not just hearing it, because what would be the point to read and hear the word of God and not do anything with it?
“Where are you?” asked God. Adam was hiding first behind a tree and then once God found him, Adam hid behind fear. Adam heard the Word of God and he didn’t do the correct thing with it, he disobeyed God and then hid. Many people hide from God behind fear, shame and guilt. We need to come out of hiding into the open and admit our sin to God. We can talk about finding joy in bad times all day long, but the key to unlocking this joy in bad times is first turning to Jesus.