Jehovah Sneaky is up to something. Every time we’ve asked Him a certain question lately, instead of answering the question, He’s replied with words about not worrying or being anxious, having peace and joy in the storm, assuring us He has a plan and will reveal it as we continue seeking, and reminding us that with joy we draw waters from the wells of salvation.
Perhaps God’s upside-down Kingdom instructions to have peace and joy should be a comforting relief, but there are times when messages like “Be of Good Cheer,” “Be Content,” and the like, can offend the soul (mind, will, and emotions) – as if maybe God doesn’t really understand what we’re going through or is asking the unreasonable. And after all, if we could just skip to the part where He answers the question and reveals His plan, we wouldn’t have to try not to worry, right?
And so, as I prepare to crucify more of my flesh so I can let His peace and joy reign, I feel God reminding me, as He has in the past, that patience has been unfairly singled out. We often hear people jokingly (or perhaps sincerely) warn believers not to pray for patience because what we’ll get are lots of opportunities to be patient when it’s the last thing we feel like being. But the reality is, this isn’t just the training process for patience, but for all the other fruit of the Spirit as well.
Want more joy? Prepare for opportunities to learn to be joyful in the midst of crushing pressure and tribulation, as God teaches us that it’s the Joy of the LORD that’s our strength, not the Joy of our circumstances (Nehemiah 8:10).
Want peace? Batten down the hatches, put on your rain gear, and get ready to learn to be peaceful in the midst of a raging storm, as the Lord reminds us that He HAS given us His peace and we must STOP ALLOWING ourselves to be troubled and afraid (John 14:27).
Want to grow in love? Roll out the red carpet for a parade of people who will expose the deficiencies in your Christ-likeness and challenge your commitment to love and forgive to the core.
And we could go on down the line with kindness, goodness, gentleness (meekness/humility), faithfulness, and self-control, showing that the only way to develop these is to be put in situations where we feel like doing the opposite so we can learn to crucify our flesh, take authority over our soul, and let God’s Spirit deep down in our spirit come shining through.