I goofed! But I guess if the Lord is leading, nothing is really a “goof” because He can use all of our “goofs” for His glory. I wrote today’s Journey to Joy post last night and then, this morning, realized I was skipping Heart Strings (something I wanted to add into this study for you). So this is a two-fer Tuesday! On Tuesdays I plan to share with you from this out-of-print book because I think it adds Lagniappe, or a little something extra to our study. Funny though, since they are both books about Joy, the chapter from Heartstrings and today’s devotional from Journey to Joy dovetail again, just as our two lessons dovetailed last week.
Chapter 2 of Heart Strings is about griping and complaining. Complaining starts with self-pity. Jill Briscoe shows that self-pity is the opposite of godly contentment. Godly contentment arises when we accept God’s will for us as good. Complaining comes from a distrust of God’s plan. It is a rebellion against God as our Adonai, our master. Think of the example of Joseph from Genesis: betrayed by his brothers, one “bad thing” after another happens to him, but he does not turn to bitterness and self-pity. You can see all along his journey that he distinguishes himself from those around him in spite of his difficulties. Think of it! There could have been times he felt overlooked by God, that somehow things had gone terribly wrong (sold into slavery, unjustly accused, locked away indefinitely, forgotten in prison). But what was his take his journey? His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Gen 50:18-21).
Jill Briscoe makes a great point that we should focus on today: contentment is learned. She says contentment in inner peace in the middle of conflicts, difficulties, and attacks. I believe there are two ways to learn contentment. On one hand, we learn by experience. I think it is in the process of navigating through difficulties, and seeing His Hand at work, that many of us learn to trust in God. Trusting Him allows us to truly submit to Him. And it is in submitting to Him that we are able to be content. 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 (James 1:2-4). On the other hand, we learn by example. Here is another way that accepting our own trials and difficulties can bring glory and honor to God. Parents, we are held accountable for how we respond to the unexpected. Our children will do what we do, rather than what we say, if the two do not match up…they will model their behavior after ours. Of course God knows this: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9). He wants us to live as His people in every circumstance. But we are not just to be an example to our family. Even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Peter 3:14-18). The World is watching. What will your attitude say about your relationship with God today?
JustaGirl…just like you!