Trying to live “in this world but not of this world” is exhausting most days.
But Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden light, so I must be doing this wrong.
How do we go from the soul-crushing weight of constant exposure to sin, injustice, oppression, persecution, and tragedy to living the joy-filled Christian life?
Paul admonished the Philippians, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Paul knew a thing or two about how to have joy and contentment despite his overwhelming circumstances. Even those among us who have suffered greatly can look at Paul’s suffering and count ourselves blessed by comparison. As he recounts in 2 Corinthians 11, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Won’t that just bless your heart? Makes my worries seem pretty superficial, praise the Lord!
The burden of suffering is all in our perspective. Paul learned the secret of being content in any circumstance was to depend upon God’s strength. James’s perspective was that he counted it all joy for the sake of growing in maturity in the faith and he, also, counseled that if we lack anything, we should ask God.
I’ve wandered a bit from 2 Kings, but God’s Word is so wonderfully cohesive! The kings who “did good in the eyes of the Lord” were those who turned to God, depended upon God, and sought God alone. As pastor J.D. Greear often says, “If dependence on God is the goal (which it is), weakness is an advantage.”
Praising God in the weakness, weariness, and neediness of the moment.