The Joy of Trusting Him

Little Amy holding dad

I heard her first cry and it was beautiful
I’ve never been happier hearing one cry
The agony and the tension was overcome
By that beautiful and confused cry
Finally she had arrived to make a home with us

Strange how the waiting season vanishes so quickly
In the middle of waiting it seems like forever
But then it happens and the agony is gone
The wounds and the scars witness the miracle
And they become marks of joy unending

With every grace and blessing God gives comes true joy
Not in the removal of total pain and suffering
But in the assurance that we have one who looks after us
One who sees beyond what we see
And truly cares for us more than we ever will know

Sad that sometimes we still doubt him
Even after he’s answered our greatest longings
Odd that future longings can make us forget his commitment
To think now he doesn’t care when he’s been so consistent
Tragic that we might even get bitter with him

We praise you Lord for your unending love and grace
For this precious blessing you’ve bestowed on us
Thank you for hearing our prayers and the ones we didn’t know to make
For your kindness and your gracious sovereign hand
Teach us to see that hand and hold more tightly

Though the future is unknown we know we are safe with you
We are never happier and safer than in your able, loving hands
Lord, teach our feeble hearts to trust and seek refuge in you
Turn our countless doubts and worries to trust
Give us the joy of a little child who trusts their Father

The currency of hope

When you are ill and feeling like this could be what carries you under what drives you is hope. Hope that the medication the doctor prescribed will do the job. Hope that your body is strong enough to fight the pathogens. Hope that tomorrow you’ll wake up feeling much better. 

But hope is not only a valuable currency when you are lying sick in your bed. Hope drives the world around. Did you know that there’s a thousand death traps that could kill you anyday? From your bedroom to your workplace and yet we wake up every day and match on like nothing could go wrong. Why? The bliss of ignorance? Perhaps for some of us. Don’t care attitude? I suppose for a number. But mostly it’s because hope tells us it’s okay. That it’ll be well.

I know I’m exaggerating but just think about it.  What made you work so hard in your studies back in school? What makes you give that extra hour in the office? Why do you try so hard with that relationship? There could be many reasons but I bet one of the main ones is hope. Hope that things will get better in future. That you’ll succed in life if you put the extra effort today. You’ll get into that college, get that job, that girl will marry you…

Listen to what famous people have said about hope:

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

The problem is when what we’d hope for doesn’t pay off and unfortunately that happens a lot. When hard work doesn’t always means a better job and pay. When giving more in a relationship doesn’t reap more love. When the boss doesn’t even realise just how hard you work. It’s the cause of many a depressed souls, many drug addicts and has even killed a good number. 

But someone will say such tragedies only happens when we give up hope. Realise how twisted that sounds, you get in trouble because of hope and hope is what will take you out of it. Hope that it’ll be better next time if you tried a bit harder this time or if you are a bit smart this time it’ll work out and the same story continues. Hope motivates us to go the extra mile but when it fails it may cost us our lives.

But what if our hope was placed in something or someone that could never fail? A hope that guarantees results not just as a cliche to make us work hard and for longer hours now. But hope that guarantees what it promises and delivers when’s it’s called upon. That would be worth everything. Wouldn’t it? That my friends is my hope this Christmas.

I’m talking about the hope of Christians based on what God said on his Word. You see God made a promise thousands of years ago that he would send his son to be ruler and rescuer of his people and he fulfilled that promise by sending Jesus to save his people from their sins, see Matthew 1:21. In this God proved he can be trusted and so his promise of the future informs our hope for today and tomorrow.

Hope that this same Jesus will come again to rescue us from this broken world, from it’s corruption, sickness and death. And bring us to that heavenly mountain to dwell with God in peace and gladness forever. Hear how John puts it when Jesus showed him a small peek through the window of this new world:

…4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.(H) There will be no more death’[b](I) or mourning or crying or pain,(J) for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21

This hope is sure because God has kept his word by sending Jesus to be born among men and to die to save us from our sins. This same Jesus was raised from the dead and is preparing this home for us now. So our hope is not only better than limited success, better pay or a working relationship. It’s sure and that’s the currency that drives the Christian and the work of the Gospel. 

This hope drives us out of bed into the world. It takes us through sickness and health, it informs our success and failure and gives us great joy even when circumstances are difficult. It’s not just a wish that things will get better. It’s a guarantee that the future eternal holds so much more for a believer that they can easily give up this life for Jesus and the Gospel now. And they can do that with great joy because of the reward of our hope. This is my hope and joy this Christmas

What’s your hope this Christmas? 

One joy at a time

It’s hard sometimes to find something to be grateful about when you are bombarded with all the bad that is going around us. It’s certainly been the case for most people this year with COVID 19 and its ripple effects. Sometimes I’m in a dilemma whether I should turn on the news because though I want to keep updated I know what I’ll see. More deaths, more sick, broken systems, bad leadership, more confusion…

But I’ve realized with all that’s been going wrong this year there’s still been a lot of good happening and there’s still a reason to be grateful as we come to the end of the year. Amidst the cloud of darkness that has been heavy on us light has shone and I wouldn’t be shocked if for some this might be the best year of their life.

But I’m also concerned about something that seems to become common and acceptable even among believers, that is , discontentment and ingratitude. It seems to me we have allowed the prevailing circumstances to be the sole determinant of our happiness and joy. That we are happy because things are going well and mostly that means they are going our way. We’ve finally got that job, or like me we got married, or because we haven’t slept hungry or been kicked out by our landlords or just because we are alive.

I know you must be getting confused because certainly these are things to be happy about and praise God for. But my problem is if our joy depends on external factors then we surely haven’t understood our identity in Christ and the Gospel. And this is not only unbiblical it’s a dangerous thing for our souls because we are left at the mercy of our world not our Lord.

Just imagine with me how life would have been for the first disciples. Imagine if they let the world around them define their happiness. Wouldn’t they have been the saddest people on earth. I mean people and governments were out to get them literally speaking. Think about all that the apostle Paul went through and yet when you read his epistles you don’t hear him mourn and complain all the time. Instead he says things like:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5

Now my aim is not to undermine our problems or even suggest we should never complain or get angry when things are going wrong especially when they can be fixed. Rather that we understand happiness rightly from the Gospel’s perspective so that we don’t end up like everyone else. There are many reasons to be sad and depressed when you look around or even look within. But for a believer the cure to that is by looking above.

How else do you suppose the apostles lived and went to their death happy? It wasn’t because they had great lawyers or believed in themselves. It was because they looked up to the one who called them who could make good out of every situation. They saw him who called them from darkness to his light and the one they were soon going to spend eternity with. And in that case suffering and death couldn’t hinder their joy.

Christians have always had a reason to be happy even when they were not sure of the next meal, or about their jobs, relationships, health, parenting, retirement… Because their joy was found in their relationship with Jesus. It was founded on what Christ had achieved for them by rescuing them from slavery to sin, the mess that is this world and the lies of its ruler the devil. It was based on that promise, behold I’m with you always to the end of the age, Matthew 28:20. And the assurance that even if they died that night things would only get better as they woke up to eternal life in heaven. This is a joy that the prevailing circumstances can never rob from a believer.

So there’s always a reason to be grateful and when you start thinking about it you realize there’s more than one. And so what I want to suggest is as we reflect on all that’s happened this year let’s remember the joys however little and simple. To pause from all the chaos and reflect on God’s grace and goodness in 2020. Ingratitude blinds our eyes from God’s immense love, kindness and mercy and when that happens the devil only needs whisper a lie and soon we start to doubt, become discontent and get angry with God and fellow believers falling for his petty schemes.

Let’s cut him off by reflecting on God’s goodness to us. This will sound cliché but the first thing I’m grateful about is hearing the true saving Gospel over and over again this year. That God in his kindness brought people my way through the church family and friends all over the world to remind me the Gospel this year. In moments of confusion and desperation I was reminded about God’s sovereignty and his loving kindness on all his children. That I was not alone and that whatever happened God would use it to grow my love, dependence and commitment to him.

Don’t get me wrong there were times that I struggled knowing this in my head but finding it hard to believe in my heart. Times when I knew my help was a prayer away and yet found it hard to stretch that arm.

But I was reminded my hope isn’t built on me and what I feel or experience but on the unfailing and irrevocable word of God. And in that word Jesus had promised to be with me, to keep me and present me holy before his father on the last day.

I didn’t need a godfather or a guardian angel because Jesus was with me through it all. And he used his Word through his people to keep my eyes where they should be, not focused on my circumstances here and now or inward looking but looking to him the pioneer and perfecter of my faith, see Hebrews 12:1-3. I’m so grateful to God for the Gospel, for my loving church family here and beyond and the faithful preaching of his Word. What are you grateful for?