[Let patience finish its work]
Sometimes I’m so silly. I’ll say things such as, I love to learn, and I enjoy a good challenge, but when given a tough lesson or a significantly more difficult challenge, my claims become shaky.
Nevertheless, God is good in my struggles, using everything at His disposal to teach me (such as the book we received from a sister in Christ this last Christmas.)
As I was reading through “The Power of Suffering,” however, I was ready to say, “MacArthur isn’t being fair. What about the person who has the challenge of depression, anxiety, or brain fog?” How do you maintain your joy then?
“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ”
As I’m reading, a picture quickly emerges of how amazing Paul was for having joy in all circumstances. MacArthur expresses something that doesn’t seem possible to me. (Bare in mind that I was depressed when I was trying to read this, so Paul was looking like a superhero, and I was feeling like a down and out hobo.)
MacArthur even states that the only justification a believer has for losing their joy is sin. This is a strong statement when you aren’t feeling joyful.
Do I really lose that joy? No, I don’t believe that I do, however, when I’m depressed I can believe that it’s absent. Depression may be a fog that causes one to lose sight of their joy, but it can’t truly steal joy.
Joy isn’t simply a feeling; it runs deeper than that, and like any aspect of faith, it’s also strengthened with time and understanding.
Here’s the thing, when God gives me an answer, I’m comforted and I’m overjoyed to recieve it. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ) And when I understand that what I’m going through serves a purpose, I again find more joy. I’m reassured that I haven’t lost my joy at all.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Paul felt this way as well. He had joy in every circumstance because He understood what it was achieving. He understood that God was maturing Him, strengthening him, and making Him an instrument through his weakness. He even delighted in it because he could see God at work. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) More than that He wanted to know Christ. Paul gained joy through sharing in Jesus’ sufferings. Becoming more like Jesus brought him joy and hope.
“I want to know Christ and the power that raised Him from the dead. I want to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death. Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.”
I don’t always appreciate that things can take time. (See…silly) The funny thing is that I experience joy when I realize, Oh, this is all part of the journey! This is still part of the process of becoming who God created me to be.
MacArthur’s right, the only justification for losing our joy (true joy–that is, the joy of the Lord) is sin. Thankfully, our mood altering afflictions don’t have that power. In fact they can even deepen our joy as we draw closer to Christ in our weakness.
“The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.”
What were learning isn’t mere words on a page. God’s word is living and active because Jesus Himself is alive and actively at work in our lives. (Hebrews 4:12) This I do consider pure joy. ❤
“My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need.” —James 1:2-4