Choosing to rejoice when tested
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 At times it seems that everything around you is collapsing. Undertakings you invested may fail. People to whom you thought you can count on when difficult times come are nowhere to find. Then the business or career you worked hard to build is crumbling. You are investing time to people you want to minister to and they seemed to be unresponsive. On top of it all, people who are close to you are critical about your faith. These times, difficult as they are, are opportunities to stop and examine what is truly important to you. From the text, the Apostle Paul declared that what matters to him is to have a treasure within him that will not be taken away. That treasure is the life of Christ within. In the Old Testament, Habakkuk witnessed the collapse of most of what mattered to him. Yet through the loss, failure, and disappointment, he was able to distinguish between what was precious to him and what was fleeting and empty. Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren, even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” He came to a realization where he could sincerely say that even if everything around him were gone and taken away from him, he will still rejoice in God. Praising God during difficult times might not come easily, but Paul as well as Habakkuk will praise God nonetheless. They are resolved to the fact that they do not have control over the events that are taking place. They are not able to cause the plants to produce harvest, nor could force flocks and herds to produce. You may not be able to control circumstances that come to your life but you have control over your response to difficult times. You can choose to rejoice just like Habakkuk and Paul. As the word of God says, “...when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:3-4). Accepting the trials you are facing prepares you for the glory that God has in store for you. This is what Peter was describing that he knew will encourage Christians endure during times of trials. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-13).