My friend was in the hospital undergoing a second round of chemo treatment for cancer and he was smiling. His smile was contagious. When a nurse asked him about having such a positive countenance through these trying times, he shared that it was all about his relationship with Jesus the Christ. Over the days following, the nurse found ways to spend a little extra time with him during her shift to ask more questions about his faith.
When I visited a few days into his treatment, he was still smiling. It seems the young nurse had agreed to go to church for the first time, to a church he had recommended. “What a blessing,” he said, “that the Lord would have me in this hospital so I could talk about Him with one of the nurses taking care of me.” He had joy and was looking forward to their next conversation.
Got Joy: “…rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope,” – Romans 5:3-4. Paul knew a lot about suffering – “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;” Paul saw suffering as a glimpse of what Jesus had done for him so he counted it all as blessing, an opportunity to be more Christ-like and to share his faith.
In his book Prepare, Paul Nyquist writes, “We equate blessing with a new job, a new house, a banner year for our company, a big bonus at work, a new baby, a clean medical report, or an acceptance into the college of our choice. In our Western mindset – conditioned by the affluence surrounding us – God’s blessings are pleasant and enjoyable. When the opposite happens – suffering, hardship, loss of job, loss of health, financial strain – ‘blessing’ is not usually the first word off our lips. … In God’s economy, blessings are radically different than our American perception.” Joy in our suffering is about recognizing blessings as opportunities to glorify the Father be it on a peak or in a valley of life.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for my friend and the perspective he offered on blessings. In this second week of Advent I am embracing a glimpse of Your glory in the joy my friend reflected in the midst of suffering. Paul said, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.’ … we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” (Romans 8:15-17). Lord, grant me strength to walk consistently as an heir of You through the blessings of life that I may reflect joy in a way that glorifies You where You have me. Amen.
A faithful father reflects joy as an heir of God and co-heir with Christ.