“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:11-13
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23
I wish you could see me now. Actually I don’t. You’d probably laugh. Or have a little sympathy – with a laugh. I’m sprawled out half on my little bed, half not, in a very odd position, sort of twisted. I just realized I could reach my laptop and am typing with my hands raised up from my weird position. I realized I’m fortunate I’m in reach of my Bible, phone, a bottle of water from my knapsack which didn’t make it too far this morning, some books, some candy, and a massive fan for good air circulation. I don’t have to move anywhere anytime soon, thank God.
The knapsack was packed and on my back this morning as I had all five dogs ready which is no easy feat to walk them to the vet because three have potentially serious health issues. I was so relieved after two weeks of waiting to see if the issues would resolve with monitoring and medication and vet calls to finally go to the vet.
Not just for their sake, but also for mine. Five handicapped and senior rescued dogs is a handful to begin with, but add to that three in need of vet care simultaneously. Lots of extra work, to say the least. The vet visit would alleviate my stress and the extra work. And, though they had been surprisingly comfortable and happy in weeks past on the whole, they needed to be seen.
But as I lifted 65 pound paralyzed Mr. Simeon from my usual kneeling position to put him in his wheelchair, I hurt my back, he pooped unexpectedly from up in the air, I finally got him in the chair despite my back and saw poop smeared on the floor and under the wheelchair tire and a little on me, then urine came out which should have been stopped by the diaper but obviously wasn’t, and you can only imagine my disposition! Time to clean the floor, and me, and Mr. Simeon, cancel the vet visit, get Mr. Simeon back on his dog bed, and a day of rest.
“What do you want from me?” I said to the Lord. “You’ve got my faith, trust, love, I’ve forsaken everything I can think of to forsake for you,” I essentially exclaimed.
His Spirit spoke.
Then, minutes later, the word CONTENT came to me.
Then this thought came to me.
Friend, our JOY, LOVE, FAITH, TRUST, PEACE, HONOR, PRAISE, WORSHIP, REJOICING, THANKSGIVING, POSITIVE ATTITUDE, REVERENCE, DEVOTION, COMMITMENT, HOPE, PERSEVERANCE, ENDURANCE, PATIENCE, GOODNESS, KINDNESS, OBEDIENCE, SELF-CONTROL, CONTENTMENT, GENTLENESS, HUMILITY, COMPASSION, ETC. SHOULD NOT BE CONDITIONED ON OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
Our JOY – and all the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT who lives inside Christ’s followers and everything just mentioned and so very much more – should be CONDITIONED ON CHRIST. Unconditional EVERYTHING!
This doesn’t mean life will always be easy and comfortable, and sometimes it may be indescribably challenging. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience anger, sadness, fear, happiness, hurt, grief, and a whole array of emotions as we journey through life. But it does mean we who follow Jesus should learn how to find everything good in Christ no matter our circumstances.