God is always at work in our lives. Even during seasons of adversity, He wants to accomplish something powerful and good. How should this knowledge affect our response? Today's passage teaches us to choose to rejoice during difficult times. This doesn't mean we have to be happy about the hardship itself. Instead, joy comes from drawing close to the Lord and believing steadfastly that through His redemptive power, He is growing and preparing us. If your usual response to trials is anxiety, anger, or depression, the idea of having joy in the midst of a negative situation might not seem logical. However, if you look beneath the surface, you will discover that this biblical directive makes sense for several reasons.
Often, our natural reaction to pain is to run in the opposite direction, and as fast as possible. However, God wants to teach us endurance--much like a long-distance runner builds up strength in training--so that we can fully benefit from what He is doing in our hearts. He uses trials as a refining fire to purify us like gold and bring us to greater spiritual maturity. As we realize that we are actually being made more complete through our adversities, we'll begin to face challenging times with confidence that He always has our best interest in mind.
While a worldly viewpoint sees hope and joy in the midst of dark times as naïve, a spiritual perspective discerns that we're really progressing on a journey toward life at its fullest. We can be filled with supernatural joy, knowing that the Lord is making us into world-changing spiritual warriors.
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