Disclaimer: This article is for the struggling Christians undergoing seemingly unreasonable situations. It is my hope to encourage them not to lose heart despite the struggles. If you happen to have questions about this topic or would like to discuss, feel free to drop me an email (see contact page).
Life in many ways can be undeniably cruel and unjust. With the access of social media, it’s very easy to get torn by all kinds of news all over the world aside from that of the personal lives of your friends. In fact, if you ask me if it’s possible to evade the harsh realities of life, I’d say that would be unlikely. Turning to alcohol, smoking, entertainment as such to forget these realities for a while doesn’t necessarily make things lighter permanently because unexpected troubles are yet to come and be faced. These outlets also may relieve stress momentarily only to face it once again the next day—a countless unpredictable cycle of relieving and being overwhelmed.
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.—John 16:20-24
Jesus encourages us that a time is coming that a lot of events in this world will cause so much grief. He uses the analogy of birth to how we can respond towards crises. Birth is a process of giving life and similarly, going through trials gives life when one endures to the end. Note that He says no one will take away your joy. Faith increases when you believe Jesus is the source of that joy.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.—James 1:12
A lot of things in this life can shake us but although these inflict grief, we need not allow fear and suffering to dictate as the source on how one must live. Getting by is usually the most common approach to move on—-with the mindset that there will be better things ahead to look forward to. Having this mindset while being very vulnerable to the negativity all around is quite frustrating, isn’t it?
Yet, sadness is a normal part of life. While a lot of tensions we experience can be depressing and heartbreaking, it is still possible to live as if you are unshaken. I often find myself in situations helpless to the tragedies going on around me. But this is because I looked only to myself and forgot for a moment that God is up to something good in my life, no matter how deep my discouragements were.
More than just a feeling, joy is the fruit of trusting there is more to what you are currently facing and that God knows why. The good news is that you can ‘cast off’ rather than ‘shrug off’ your problems to God.
Joy is not a trait you can attain on your own, no matter what you do, be it positive thinking by will power. By joy, it doesn’t refer to happiness. Happiness is pretty much dependent on circumstances but joy isn’t quite; rather it is cultivated in trusting God’s will and purpose for your life, regardless of what comes your way. If one were to base life on happiness, that would be very relative: one day you will start comparing different areas of your life because of the “good old days” and wish it stayed that way. More than just a feeling, joy is the fruit of trusting there is more to what you are currently facing and that God knows why. The good news is that you can cast off rather than “shrug off” your problems to God.
The problem with shrugging off problems is that it is both a passive and a deadly way of negligence. Sooner or later you will have to deal with the consequences alone and think how it happened. On the other hand, casting off your problems to God is an active sign of surrender that you trust and will wait upon His instruction. To cast off means to literally let go, admit your struggles and let God work in you, with no strings attached.
The wickedness happening around can harden the heart and make a person indifferent—a virus that makes surroundings cold and numb, but by God’s grace, you can continue to live in excellence despite them. You don’t have to give in to them, stay depressed, nor stumble because you can still make a difference in Christ.
Hence, you can bid the world’s ways goodbye knowing it won’t compare and last to what God has in mind and run to God to restore back the joy of your salvation.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.—-Romans 8:18-21