Some time ago, I heard someone on the radio talking about three things you can expect when you are a Christian. While I can’t remember it word for word (old age has definitely set in), here’s the gist of it:
The three things you can expect to receive as a follower of Christ are:
∙ constant trouble
Well, alrighty then. The first two do indeed sound like some pretty wonderful gifts, don’t they? To be fearless in such a fearful world? Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to be unafraid. “Fear not.....be ye not afraid....be strong and courageous, do not be terrified.” Our fearlessness depends on our ability to put our trust and our faith in God. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God whose Word I praise; in God I trust, I will not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3,4).
And joy...who doesn’t want joy? Mentioned 242 times in the Bible, it’s a feeling that comes from deep within our hearts through the Holy Spirit living and at work inside of us (Luke 10:21; Galatians 5:22); is completely independent of our outward circumstances (Habakkuk 3:18; James 1:2) and is often hard to express in words (1 Peter 1:8). Great joy is found in knowing the Lord as our Savior (Isaiah 58:14; Acts 16:34), consuming His word (Jeremiah 15:16; Psalm 119:103) and spending time in His presence (Psalm 16:11). Our joy, like our fearlessness, also depends on our ability to trust in the Lord - “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13).
But wait just a minute here. Constant trouble? You're kidding, right? Who in the world wants to receive THAT??!! That's no gift.....FUGGETABOUTIT!!! I’ve had my share and more this past year, thanks very much. You can keep it. Let's keep looking ahead, maybe 2012 will be the Year of the Cakewalk.
Yeah.....right. Dream on, dear ones. Trouble, according to the Bible, is to be our constant companion, a burden we must shoulder as a devoted follower of Christ while we journey upon this earth. In 1 Peter 4:4, referring to those who do not share our faith in Jesus, it says "they think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you." Yup. I can relate to that, can‘t you?
And Jesus said, in John 16:33, in the Amplified Bible, “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration.” Ain’t THAT the truth? Trouble is a given, a guarantee. Our traveling companion in life, though definitely NOT our companion of choice.
So where does that leave us? Well, thankfully, we have this hope to focus on and cling to in the next part of the verse: “but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
|'Lion of Judah,' by Jeff Haynie|
Writing this, I’m reminded of a poem I’d heard many, many years ago:
The Prayer of St. Patrick
As we begin this new year, let’s ask our precious Savior to allow us to see these three things as the gifts they truly are -- although that last one might not be the gift we've been hoping for. Let's pray that this year, we'll hold tightly to God's promises to us and that throughout 2012, we'll remember who we are: sons and daughters of the King; brothers and sisters-in-Christ; fearless prayer warriors of God, beloved followers filled with joy unspeakable, although constantly surrounded and bombarded by the troubles of this world.
But -- take heart! Be encouraged! Stand confident and undaunted in our Hope, Jesus Christ, who has overcome and conquered the world for us!
Hail Jesus You're my Lord
I will obey Your Word
I want to see Your kingdom come
Not my will but Yours be done
Glory glory to the Lamb
You take me into the land
We will conquer in Your name
And proclaim that Jesus reigns
Hail hail Lion of Judah
How powerful You are
Hail hail Lion of Judah
How wonderful You are
How wonderful You are ~ Victory Chant, by Nicole C. Mullen