Thursday, January 14, 2010

Consider it pure joy...

Somedays it is easier than others to take to heart the words written in the letters to the early church.  Repeatedly both James and Paul urge believes to "consider it pure joy" when they face trials (James) and to "rejoice in our sufferings" (Paul, in the letter to the Romans) and to "do everything without complaining" (Paul, in the letter to the Phillipians).  It goes on and on.  Somedays, these are easy words to live by.  Those are usually the days when things are going well and there relatively few rough spots. 
Then there are days like today.  Ben and I both brought home a bug from the hospital.  He was mostly over it by the time I got home, but we are assuming its a hospital bug since we are the only two who are sick and we are the only two who were in the hospital.  It's days like today, when you feel about as energetic as a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe, that it's hard.  It becomes easy to feel sorry for yourself and complain.
Then I read verses like these and it's like a slap in the face.  These early Christians knew what it was like to suffer.  They were actively persecuted for their faith.  If anyone knew suffering, it was these people.  If any one had reason to complain, it was these people.  Not only did they have all the cares of regular life (getting sick, kids who don't listen, losing their jobs, finding a way to put food on the table, etc) they were in danger of being killed for their faith.  Paul even wrote many of his letters from jail.  He had reason to complain.  But he didn't.  He rejoiced in the good and urged others to do the same.
It puts me to shame. I start complaining because I've been feeling lousy or because my teeth hurt from dental work or because my room is cold or because I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas or a thousand other petty things. 
I need to work on this.  It is definetely a spot where I have lots of room to grow.  My friends call me Joy, so I should live up to my name.  If Paul could rejoice from behind prison bars, surely there is a way for me to rejoice.
Consider it pure joy....

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