Anyway, I was about to close a book and as I was putting my bookmark in the book I noticed that it had this verse written on it (I use little Scripture memory cards as my bookmarks): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. –Jesus in John 14:27.
That last line in particular really hit me: do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus said not to be troubled or afraid. He didn’t give a lot of flowery reasons, He just said don’t.
That thought kind of stunned me in a way. My heart naturally felt like being troubled, hurt, and afraid, but Jesus said to have peace. It wasn’t a suggestion and He wasn’t trying to convince us; He was telling us what to do. So, I decided to do it.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV
Not because I had an earthly reason to, but because the Lord said to. I’m not saying it’s easy, but giving your troubles to the Lord in exchange for His peace is what He has told us to do. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. –Jesus in Matthew 11: 28-30
There is a time for everything and I believe that in God’s unfathomable understanding He allows a time for us to fume, grieve, cry out, lament, wail, and even perhaps lose hope and despair a bit. He knows we’re only human, made of dust, and struggling with our flesh. BUT there comes a point and time to CHOOSE to take Him at His word. He said to have peace. He said to rejoice. He said not to be troubled or afraid. I believe Him, therefore, I will obey Him.
My memory verse right now is James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers & 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 & complete, not lacking anything.
This is a very appropriate verse for me when I take the events of Fall 2009-today into consideration. Now, normally when I read this verse, the translation in my head says, “Don’t be depressed because all the hard stuff you’ve been going through is for a greater purpose.” Kind of blah.
This morning, as I was thinking about taking Him at His word, this phrase jumped out at me: “consider it pure joy”. Pure joy? Not just bearable? Not just less than super-depressing and discouraging, but pure joy? “…so that you may be mature & complete, not lacking anything.”? Pure joy because these present trials and testings of my faith are producing spiritual maturity and completion in Him? Pure joy.
And maybe that in itself is the believers’ act of faith: I will believe what He said. I will believe what He said. I will believe what He said.
He said to have peace.
He said not to be afraid.
He said not to be troubled.
He said to rejoice in Him even when things look bleak.
He said to rest in Him.
He said to think of our troubles as pure joy as they perfect our maturity and completion in Him.
You know what I think the “trick” to a lot of this is? Believing it before you feel it. Looooong before you feel it. Choosing to believe that what the Bible says is truer than what you feel or even see and experience. I know that might sound crazy and sometimes I marvel at the fact that I am a person of faith, but it’s true. The spark that will ignite His peace and joy in your heart and life is conscious belief. Believe Him. Take Him at His word. He is pure joy.
Then they believed His promises and sang His praises. Psalm 106:12