How well do you embrace painful moments?
Do you squeeze them close to your heart in order to humbly injest the pure essence of the lesson at hand? If you do, please call me because I need to come sit under you and learn from your wise ways.
Or are you like me, who needs to tuck the “injustice button” somewhere out of reach of the emotionally immature “trigger-ers” because it’s really not their fault, they just don’t know what the heck they are doing, they just have not processed their “junk” yet with a bonafide counselor.
Willingness to embrace painful moments will eventually lead to great joy. Why? Because the Person of Unconditional Love, Jesus Christ, willfully embraced the suffering at the cross. Why? Because of the joy set before Him.
He knew He would be raised from the dead and provide a way for humanity to be reconciled to God but He still asked the Father if there was another way because the flesh always wants to run from pain.
What pain are you currently running from?
How are you dealing with the pain?
Numbing it with wine?
Infecting others with complaining?
Drowning in self-pity?
May I suggest exercising your willingness to embrace the pain? Hold it so close to your heart that you weep for a few days, acknowledging that the people who turned against you are human and they make mistakes. Then, you lay it at Jesus’ nail-scarred feet and keep it there while you thank Him for helping you to see how He sees the situation and keep thanking Him for reconciliation with those people who have hurt you.
I believe this is the hardest “exercise” for us humans: to leave our complaints at Jesus’ feet and trust Him to work all the details out for everyone’s good. Because the resolution may not manifest until years down the road. That hurts so good. It forms amazing character that few people possess.
It’s commanded in the Bible to “not fear man”, “not be anxious”, but to “trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. (Matthew 10:28, Phil. 4:6, Prov. 3:5-6).
The joy comes down from heaven when this muscle of willingness to embrace pain is perfected. C.S. Lewis says that “pain is God’s megaphone.” It is not cruel, it’s His “come away with Me” song, wooing us away from the busy-ness of all that is fleeting, protecting us from the accusations, cleansing us from the bitterness that wants to imprison our hearts from ever trusting another human being again.
The joy comes when we lean into Him and let Him speak to our hearts. (John 15:11) The beautiful part is this joy is His that He longs to fill us to the full with. But the majority of humans on earth are running after vapors of worldly emptiness, completely disconnected from God’s love and presence When we release the wounding of the pain and lean in, He will make our paths straight. That’s where divine joy flows. Nothing can take joy that comes down from heaven, that is God’s will for us on earth.
The Kingdom of heaven on earth is “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Joy is 1/3 of the Kingdom. The Church has a lot to learn about joy. I know Christians who need to learn from unbelievers what joy looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like. I marvel at the world because they are freer dreamers than most Christians. Joy is a gift. Religion kills joy. Joy is a healthy emotion and one of the many fruits of the Holy Spirit.
When you are feeling attacked, accused, misunderstood and defensive, God says to “consider it pure joy” because this trial you are facing is going to supply you with something that will be making you more complete in character, lacking in nothing. As Oswald Chambers puts it: even suffering is not for us to get something for ourselves but everything is for Christ and the gospel. When I consider this, I can let go of the painful betrayal and see myself “in Christ” (it’s His desire that His joy be full in us) and that my response in obedience to God’s Word is furthering the gospel. Now that’s seeing from heaven’s perspective.
So it all comes down to my attitude. Initially, I may have over-reacted to being falsely accused but every moment I have another chance to have another thought and choose to be a powerful person. I take ownership for my part in whatever drama occured and I apologize, repent and leave it at God’s feet. Then, I’m going to consider it pure joy because I’m going to pass this test with a winning attitude.
I declare: I am free, I am healed and my Father loves me.
What are you going to declare in the face of your trials today?