Christopher StitesComment

Sovereign Joy

Christopher StitesComment

I once heard a man say that the Christian is either entering into, in the middle of or just leaving a season of suffering or trial. In my opinion, that might as well be printed out and taped somewhere in the New Testament between Romans and 1 Peter. Maybe it has something to do with the level in which they are following Jesus. The more you find your treasure in Jesus the more you care less about finding it and keeping it in this life. I guess that makes it very easy to run against opposition - simply because the way of Jesus is inverted from the way of this world.

We have recently been faced with some unique and challenged circumstances. The type that, when you enter into them, they make your stomach turn and heart race. Anxiety starts to flush into your veins and your mind begins to race through questions, frustrations and doubts. Now, I am not writing this to tell you that the trials of life cause stress - I’m sure you have figured that one out on your own. Neither am I writing this so you somehow think you now have permission to stay in your anxiety and stress. It maybe a knee-jerk reaction but it mustn’t be a state in which we choose to remain in without fighting. What I am wanting to convey is a truth that has, in the midst of whipping winds and jostling waves, anchored us. 

I’m not sure what your Sunday School Bible lessons consisted of but mine were filled with cheerful recollections of Noah’s Ark, Joseph and his special robe, David and Goliath and Daniel and the lions den. They were told with excitement and cheerfulness. I can faintly remember the images on the chalkboard; ones of celebrating and victory and joy! Yet when I look back and look through the large amount of sermons and books and lessons I have been exposed to, I find myself searching for something that was rarely proclaimed. 

The golden thread that has been woven through all the stories of the Bible is not one of “try hard and God will give you what you want” - nor “be good and God will bless you” - BUT - “God is controlling the outcome of all things, even and especially when things become out of our very own control”! THIS is the common thread, the underlying theme, the framing of every story and outcome of the Bible. That is the point of Noah and Joseph and David and Daniel. It's not that we are so good or smart or powerful, but that GOD is so good, smart, powerful and in control of EVERY thing that takes place. The Bible repeats itself like a broken record stuck in jagged groove that God is over all the Heavens and the Earth. God is not quite on this truth - maybe we just haven't been on the same frequency. 

When things go awry, God remains at the head of the ship. This is the truth that has anchored us down when the storms of life have threatened to sink us. This is the comfort that has calmed our anxious minds and racing hearts. This is the joy that has caused us to press on, press in and push forward in the face of opposition. We place our hope in the truth that we are saved and loved and guided by “..Him who works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11)!

"ALL THINGS" does not mean only good things or comfortable things or kind things or joyous things.. I don't believe God can be God and let the narrative of history run in a direction that is opposite of His intended and desired end. There maybe things that stand at great odds with God's will - yet Jesus reveals to us the method of God, reconciling and restoring broken and dead things back to it's original, intended purpose! He is using your pain, your sin, others sin, your affliction, your trials, your doubts, your anxiety, your burdens - ALL THINGS - to bend and move according to His intended end - the good of His saints and the Glory of His name! 

"From life’s first cry to final breathe, Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand. Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand."