Tag Archives: Joy

Why life is hard – one reason

26 Jan

I find that clear thinking and logical deductions help me think through my day-to-day life.  And as my understanding of the Bible deepens and is clarified, thinking carefully illumines Truth.

For instance, does it ever feel like God is blocking you? That no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to make ‘it’ happen?  What if you realized that your goal or desire is NOT what would actually make you happy?

To say that God might be in the way of our plans is NOT to imply that He is a ‘cosmic meany’ or grumpy God who is against pleasure.   Our God is the happiest being in and out of the entire universe.  The Bible even calls Him ‘happy‘ or in Greek, ‘makarios‘.

1 Timothy 1: 10b-11 …..sound teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed* God.

Furthermore, our good triune God created pleasure and fashioned us, His image-bearers, to be supremely happy, content and satisfied in HIM!  We just don’t know, at first, what makes us happy.  And we have an enemy who keeps diverting our attention to temporary shiny baubles.

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

What I am finding out and beginning to consciously learn is that when I start to pursue something that does not lead to ULTIMATE joy (as much as is possible here on this present earth), God thwarts me, eventually.

I’ve seen it in my decades-long pursuit of ‘the perfect weight’.  And I see it now in my desire to ‘feel competent’ at my craft of teaching French so students acquire the language.

How so?  Well, a new thought occurred to me this week.  If what I mean by ‘I want to feel competent‘ that I don’t want to feel needy or unsure of my skills, then I have set myself up for a NO-WIN endeavor.

For God has made you and me, created beings, to be DEPENDENT on our Maker.

Here’s the logic.  I’m sure you can follow these premises.  Do you agree that they are true?

  • God wills for me to be supremely happy (makarios) IN HIM!
  • God’s will is always done, eventually.
  • When I pursue something other than God that I think will make me supremely happy (makarios), then I am in opposition to God’s will.
  • God will cannot be denied.
  • Therefore, God will either block my pursuit or allow me to continue until I reach the painful conclusion of just how unsatisfactory it is.

I’m FAR better off giving in and submitting to God BECAUSE He is good and loving.

If you have listened to or read anything by John Piper from Desiring God Ministries, then you recognize how he summarizes this philosophy of the Christian life as “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Seeing evidence of God’s glory HERE and NOW fills that cavernous pleasure ache in us.  Not completely while we are in this body, but more than anything created.  Here is how our Lord describes the worth of His glory.

Isaiah 42:8  I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.

The highest and best gift God can give us is to SEE His glory.  Look at how Jesus explains it:

John 17:24  Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (NLT)

So maybe the next time you experience frustration over something you have had your heart and mind set on, consider whether God might be blessing you by holding you back from something far less satisfying compared to what you might have now.

Of course, it goes without saying, we’ll need to pray for discernment and wisdom to distinguish between ‘a time to persevere’ and a time to ‘submit to God’s will and let go.’

Logical Gal – presuppositions about trials

7 Feb

We all face suffering through trials.

Our pre-existing beliefs or ‘pre-suppositions’ going INTO difficulties determine our conclusions.  And our ‘bottom-line’ reasoning impacts our feelings and how we will react.

My circumstances in my new school setting have been painful this first year.  And they seem to be getting worse.  So I have had occasion to rethink how I view suffering.

Because I have a Biblical worldview, my foundational beliefs are influenced by God’s Word.  But, let me assure you, no matter which worldview you hold, your presuppositions will influence you.  It doesn’t matter that your ‘going into the trial’ beliefs might be different from mine.  I just want you to SEE how our pre-existing beliefs make a difference.  It’s a corollary then that you should EXAMINE your presuppositions to see if they are ones you want influencing your life!!

Here is how my logical mind is working today.  The following are some ‘givens’ or axioms that I have gathered over the years as a Christian:

  1. I am made in the image of God
  2. He is a God of infinite joy, so authentic pleasure and contentment are important to Him.
  3. He has wired me to enjoy what He enjoys
  4. The highest joy/pleasure in the universe is being in His presence when He is glorified. (the Bible affirms this throughout the Old and New Testaments.  **The one sample passage at the end of this post is part of Jesus’ prayer before He was crucified.)
  5. The best seat in which I can see God glorified and thereby maximize my true pleasure, is UP CLOSE, in my life.
  6. The more desperate and dire the situations in my life, the more occasion for God to show Himself strong and amazing.
  7. I am UNABLE to do anything to help myself in this current struggle.  God is my only recourse.  Each additional turn of events that makes things worse is only serving to make the resolution all the more amazing when He does act.
  8. God is infinitely creative and acts in ways that are often unique and beyond my imagination.
  9. In the end, I am REALLY going to be satisfied in God and grateful that He allowed THIS to happen.

Reviewing in my mind my core suppositional beliefs does help.  It takes the anxiety out of the waiting.  I can live without seeing HOW He is going to act.  Since I KNOW His character and how He has acted in the past and what He promises, I am more likely to practice patience.

Question:  What are YOUR presuppositions about suffering?  Do they help you?

**Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.  John 17: 24-26

Logical Gal and Jesus as source of Logic

25 Dec

Greek letters LOGOS mean word

It thrills me that God is a thinking, rational God.

Whether you look in the Old or New Testaments, you can’t help but see many commands to think correctly, reason well, employ your mind sufficiently.

God actually INVITES us to think through propositions and truth with Him.  And Jesus Himself points to evidence as a way to back up His words.  He invites those who don’t believe His words, to look at His miracles.  The essay below discusses this divine invitation NOT to fear thinking through doubts.

A blog post about nurturing a thinking faith that includes doubts

But on this Christmas Day, 2013, let me leave you with an encouragement to continue to develop your argumentation skills as you THINK through issues whether in politics, moral issues of the day or questions of faith.  If the creator of the entire universe is called the Logic, the ‘Logos’ which is Greek for WORD, then know that we humans, made in God’s image, are wired to think and use words as well.

God uses them for good, and we, too, have that choice. So don’t be afraid to seek, discern, distinguish and parse out propositional Truth.  Our experience of the Living Truth will be so much richer, the more we apply our minds to understanding the Truth, the Logos.

May you rest knowing that at the core of the universe is a logical, good, joy-filled and joy-sharing living God. Rejoice!