Cooking Up the Perfect Recipe: Sweet Suffering Soufflé

3AE01280-CEF1-4873-B52C-C0BC29A879D8“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

We love the holiday season because everyone is ‘supposed to be’ thankful, happy and jolly.   The world may try to cover up wounds by trying to eat or shop them all away.  For Ralphie from “The Christmas Story,” his joy was based on obtaining his coveted Red Rider.  What is the source of joy for you and me?

The world views joy as synonymous with happiness and thus it is reduced it to a feeling that’s based on our circumstances.  Merriam-Webster defines it joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires” John Piper gives us a more Christ-centered definition, “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”  Adam Holland, paints a simple and clear picture of Christian joy in contrast with the world’s happiness, “Joy is a deep and abiding peace and comfort in the work of the Lord, while happiness is tied to our experiences—the ups and downs of our lives.” (Anchored in the Storm)

We can find this kind of real deep-seeded joy in the mist of our trials because of the truth God’s Word promises us that trials have a blessed purpose.  In Pastor John MacArthur’s commentary, he identifies eight purposes of trials; to test and strengthen our faith, humble us, wean us from our dependence on worldly things, call us to eternal and heavenly hope, reveal what we really love, teach us to value God’s blessings, develop in His saints enduring strength for greater usefulness, and enable us to better help others.  The common thread in these is they are all tools in the hands of our Redeemer for His use, glory and work.  He uses them to refine us like a goldsmith does. It comforts my heart to know my trials are not in vain.  There are many wonderful purposes God can accomplish through our dark nights if we find our adobe in Him instead of shunning Him away.  Our trials are being directed by our God who loves us and out of that love for our being made complete and perfected in faith.

True joy and thankfulness during adversity may be strange, even radical.  Yet, this is what we as Christians’ poses in Christ.  We captivate the attention of the watching world when we display true and abiding joy.  May we be reminded why we can have joy and give thanks to God no matter what we are going through this holiday season.  Can tears running down our face be wiped away up by joy? For the Christian the answer is yes!

Heavenly Father, author and perfecter of our faith, you are our souls deepest longing.  Forgive us for seeking joy in worldly and temporally things that can never fully satisfy our soul like only you can.  Lord thank you that Jesus was willing to endure the most severe trial in bearing our sins on the cross to accomplish the amazing work of redemption.  Thank you for the way you use own hardships in our lives to produce patience, endurance and ultimately to perfect and grow us to be more like your Son.  May be avail ourselves to be refined by the fire and be steadfast in our assurance of things hoped for and unwavering in the convictions of things unseen that you are producing through our tears and tiresome sails along our journey through this life.