“Life is a Test”, wrote Rick Warren in his popular Purpose-Driven Life devotional. Grandmaster Flash, in describing life as he saw it, rapped these ingenious lyrics: “it’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder why I keep from going under.” Now, having arrived at “mid-life,” I too, opine: life is a maze of surprises colored by our responses to them.
It seems that life is full of unknown events, experiences, and mysteries. A test of sorts, I suppose. A test of the ability (or inability as it were) of being able to see the “silver lining” in each and every cloud.
In times like these, it can be difficult to see clouds for anything other than what they are – dark, grey, and gloomy. What then is a person to do in tough times, and when there truly is “no joy in Mudville”?
This is Temporary
The first thing we must understand is that these cloudy days, no matter how painful, dark or dreary, are temporary. Time, in the short term, may feel like our enemy; however, in the long run, time will prove to be your trusted friend as it has the ability to ease and dull your pain. This too shall pass.
“Whatever has happened before will happen again. Whatever has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us. Nothing from the past is remembered. Even in the future, nothing will be remembered by those who come after us.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, GWT
Now that Christmas has just visited us, a season of laughter, joy, and giving, there is an ever present expectation, that you are to be nothing less than joyful. After all, it is the season that we celebrate Jesus’ birth. However, despite your best efforts, and with “everything Christmas” abounding in stores, on television, and even on the radio, your pain oddly increases ever the more.
To find “joy in adversity” during these times, I propose you do something counterintiative: find the silver lining! Despite the fullness of your cloud, and the darkness that threatens your faith, just know that this season is temporary. And while I can not tell you when your storm will pass, I can tell you that God will show up in your storm to strengthen you and help you endure. He did it for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and surely He will do it for you.
There is Always Hope
So long as you have breath in your body, remember, there is always hope. This hope is not about the situation resolving the way you want it, rather, hope in the fact that you are a far better person having weathered your personal storm. The ultimate question to ask yourself from this experience is: Will you be better or will you be bitter?
To be made better from your troubles therefore requires you to understand that when trouble finally passes, and it will, there should be something new about you brought on by your circumstance.
“We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.” — Romans 5:3-5, NCV
While this scripture promises that joy awaits us at the end of our troubles, If you’re like me, you might ask yourself whether there is a detour to take that would allow us to experience joy without pain. There isn’t. Jesus declared “in this world, you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We have joy with our troubles. David reminds us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. Psalm 30:5 It is in this hope that we experience God’s love because, inevitably, He makes us better through them.
We may not always feel good about it, and we may not always understand, but all this is part of God’s work.
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” — Job 2:10, NLT
Again, the gift of coping with adversity is possible by reminding yourself that:
- adversity is temporary, and
- there is hope and joy in trouble, no matter how small.
Today’s joyful task:
Ask yourself this: Will I be bitter or will I be better?
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