Tag Archives: contented joy

Where you get “the good stuff?”

Have you ever noticed that when we stop complaining about every little thing that irritates or disappoints us, we start to become aware of all the good that remains in our lives? From where does all that goodness come?

If you’ve studied hard and worked hard you might be right in receiving congratulations for a job well done – and maybe a better job or promotion!

If you’ve persevered under heavy trial and come out of the storm alive, you might receive credit for your disciplined and conscientious approach to the situation.

If your kids turn out great you might take a bow for having raised them well and taught them the truly important lessons of life.

If you’re able to enjoy an abundance of wealth in your life, you might credit hard work and talent.

If you remain healthy and vibrant as you age you might testify to your healthy diet and exercise regime.

And you’d be right. Hard work and perseverance, following a path designed for success, and faithfulness to what is good and true tends to produce good things. But how is it we have the power to produce such goodness? Where do we get that goodness in the first place?

I complimented a young lady on her compassionate heart that led her to rescue a baby bird from its distress. Though grateful, she embarrassingly shrugged off the compliment. I reminded her that the compliment for her was sincere and that it was at the same time a compliment to God for the tender heart he had given her.

Whatever talent or special ability to work and persevere, build or achieve ultimately comes from the one who created us and endowed us with those special abilities and characteristics. Ultimately, if it’s good, it comes from God. What  continually stuns me is how God chooses to work through you and me, imperfect people that we are, to be the vessels of his love. He blesses us so we can bless others which in turn brings blessing back to us. It’s like the old song, “Love is something that if you give it away, you end up having more.”

Blessings always travel two-way streets.

So if God blesses you to bless others and that in turn blesses you again, does it stop there? Or does the blessing return to God who spoke the blessing in the first place? The old benediction, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” reminds me not only of the source of all my blessings, but also the completing act of the cycle of blessing which is praise.

It takes a disciplined mindset and attentive eye to see blessing and goodness in the middle of a bad situation. But when you do, don’t you want to share it with someone else and also thank the one who revealed it to you?

Whether your experience is large or small, if you experience the blessing of laughter, hidden joy, persevering faith, abundant resources, or simple beauty, turn that blessing back into praise of the one who revealed it to you. Return the blessing to God. And then watch that praise lift your own day and mold your heart and life into one of great satisfaction…ultimately satisfaction in God who created you and revealed all “the good stuff” in your life.


Treasured joy

One of the treasures that perhaps everyone seeks is that of deeper and lasting joy. But a deeper joy requires a deeper life. A.W. Tozer (in his book Keys To The Deeper Life) said the deeper life only seems deep because the average life is so shallow. Ouch. Have you ever noticed that when real truth shines into our lives that it reveals something uncomfortable?

I suppose our lives are like a community swimming pool, having both shallow and deep parts. If we want to enjoy the deeper joys of life we have to spend more time in the deep end. Marcia and I were talking tonight how sometimes it takes suffering through some crisis to push us into the deep end of the pool. It is difficulty that wake us up and allows us to focus on what is truly important.

Years ago, my friend Norm was dying of cancer. During a more resilient phase he spoke before the church. He said sincerely that he had fallen ‘asleep’ spiritually, and then said that if being healed meant he would fall back ‘asleep’ he would rather have the cancer because it had drawn him closer to God. You know what is like to get sleepy and start to nod off. You are still cognizant of what is going around, but everything starts to lose focus. That physical phenomenon happens to us spiritually and relationally too. It is easy to drift away, only partially focused on our most prized ambitions and relationships.

What price would you pay to always “stay awake?” Would you embrace suffering with more joy and wish to keep it if being healed meant we would drift farther away from God and others you love?

It seems to me we too easily pray away suffering as if we have this genie that exists solely to make our life more comfortable and luxurious. There is nothing wrong with comfort, unless it causes us to drift away from our pursuit of Godly ambitions.

We also talked tonight about the joy of contentment (Phil 4:11-13) that comes with suffering. Not to glorify the act of suffering, but to glorify God who shows us the way to endure suffering. And not only endure but to thrive in the process.

What are you willing to change in your life to find the treasure of deeper and lasting joy?

Consider it joy

If you are a student of the bible you are familiar with the passage in James 1 where he says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Most people’s response to this is often, “Yeah, right.” I mean, how many of us pray for more trials so we can develop perseverance and become more mature? But we ought not run away to quickly from trials and suffering because in their path we discover God revealing more of himself to us, and more about who we are meant to be. These lessons can’t be learned and such character can’t be built in any other way than through the crucible of the refiner’s fire.

It’s not that we should run around and yell, “Whoopee for cancer!” There is nothing to celebrate in that wretched disease. Except this: that in the midst of trials and suffering, we draw closer to God and rediscover God’s grace and his enduring love. And how could we draw closer to Christ unless we participate in some way in his suffering? (Philippians 3) Such trials have a way of bringing us to the end of ourselves and redirect us to the real purpose and meaning in our life. And it is there that we find God waiting for us, ready to carry us through the difficult battles.

Consider it joy? Maybe not the bubbly effervescent joy we normally pursue, but the deeper joy of contentment and being fully satisfied that God’s plan is for good.

Are you facing trials today? Turn your focus from the discomfort and turn your eyes to Jesus. Seek his presence and find a peace that transcends all understanding, a contented joy in resting in him.

More blessed now than before

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Psalm 103:1

Eleven months after being diagnosed with Leukemia, I find that I am more blessed, even still with a life-threatening disease than perhaps when I was healthier. “How can that be?” you ask.

Have you ever noticed that when the sun comes out on a cloudy day you can see more clearly than before? Have you caught yourself realizing the rare value of loving and being loved unconditionally? Even where bubbly joy may escape you, have you found instead a lasting and contented joy that circumstances can’t shake? If in the presence of adversity you dig deeper to find a heart that has been conditioned to give thanks in all situations, then you have found a treasure. There is always reason to give thanks for the one who trusts our merciful and faithful God. A thankful heart, an attitude of gratitude, is one of the keys to enduring and thriving in the midst of struggles! Along the difficult journey, sometimes surrounded by despair and worry, a thankful heart discovers unspeakable hope and a ‘fully persuaded’ faith that is a firm and secure anchor for your soul. In fact, it is not a new discovery but one which has sustained you all along your path. Only now, it lifts you to greater heights. Its light shines brighter to reveal that your path of trial does not go on forever. If you find these things, you have found immense treasure.

All good news and no bad? Are there no struggles and heartaches? Ones that sometimes wear you down? Oh for sure there are; and certainly more to come. But where there are those, there are blessings all the more. Especially the blessings of faith, hope, and love. These are blessings that are always available to us. In the face of adversity, we always make a choice; perhaps not a conscious one, but a choice none the less: we choose to surrender either to our circumstances and to the impotence of own attempts to overcome them, or to the real power God offers to be victors. Whether your struggles are large or small, whether you have carried them for a short time or much of your life, TODAY is the day you can choose to respond with faith, with hope, with love. Cultivate a thankful heart that learns to rise above the circumstances and rest in the presence of God’s love for you. Be more blessed now than before.