Finding Faith: You pick, your choice
Suffering, real suffering is the easy choice, and easy to find
By REV. TAYLOR CAMERER
It’s not hard to find the suffering in this world. It’s hard to find the courage to take up the mission of joy. You pick, your choice.
James the apostle says “Consider it pure joy when you face trials.” Don’t misunderstand this. This is not saying fake it!
God never asks you to deny reality, and he doesn’t expect you to smile and say, “Everything’s fine!” When grieving a loss of any kind, whether family pet or your girlfriend just left you, or your child has an illness. Those aren’t good things. The key is not to rejoice for those things, but in those things.
If you’re fortunate to live a long life then you will attend more funerals. You will bury all your contemporaries and many of their children. That’s life! It comes with unavoidable heart ache.
So be authentic with yourself about what hurts. Tough times come to each of us, don’t be so surprised! It’s also unhealthy to bottle up your emotions. Better to use the Lamaze method to cope with pain: cry out when it hurts and keep breathing.
So how can we be happy in the problem? Because we know God has a purpose. He’s testing my faith, he’s developing my endurance, and he’s maturing my character. He is constructing my soul. “God will not keep you from anything that will make you more like Jesus,” says Elizabeth Eliot.
By the way, if you are only happy when you don’t have any problems, you will never be happy. You must learn how to be happy in the problems, because you’ll always have problems. They are an inevitable part of life.
Notice James says, Make up your mind that it’s pure joy. That means to deliberately choose to make up your mind. You can control how you respond to a problem. It’s your choice to rejoice, and you can rejoice because God has a reason for the problem. Problems in life are inevitable; misery is optional.
You cannot stop problems from coming into your life, but you don’t have to be miserable over them. You pick.
Though Christians are realistic about this world, we are called to celebrate and walk in joy. Rejoice! is a command. That’s good because something about happiness in Christ is victorious for his kingdom.
There is something about happiness is profoundly world-overcoming. It pokes the devil in the eye. I like that! “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
The salvation of your soul is not just about where you go when you die. The word salvation means healing or deliverance right now at the deepest level of who we are; in the care of God through the presence of Jesus. Sooner or later, your world will fall apart. Life is full of horrible tragedies. The world is filled with brokenness and pain. What will matter then is the soul you have constructed.
‘Happiness’ is not floating a false dream and distorting the purposes of Jesus. But salvation means “the soul you have constructed.” rests on something more solid than your current circumstances.
No, I am not naturally happy. I am naturally a cynic. But I choose you, happiness, peace, contentment and confidence n the steadfast love of Jesus. I think the sour Christian is no Christian at all. That’s the truth! Embrace the practice of happiness. It isn’t as though Jesus has kept this happiness hidden. It is part of almost every story he told!: “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, land that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Taylor Camerer of Great Island Presbyterian Church, Lock Haven.