I have often read a certain passage from Hebrews 12, but for some reason it has really been opened up to me and the implications of it. In the second verse, we are told for the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame and then sat down at the right hand of the Father.
This verse has come up in my recent reading. The Holy Spirit has also reminded me of it in connection with what my Sunday school class has been studying in James 3-4 about God’s wisdom. The wisdom that is not from above is characterized by bitter jealousy and selfish rivalry. We are also told that when we ask for things we do not receive them because we ask amiss based upon our own desires.
How often do we want to skip any suffering, struggle or pain in order to get to the joy that is on the other side? We ask God to remove or “fix” situations that cause pain, but from what motive or motives do we ask for this? Could it be that we want to bypass the suffering and only experience the joy? That would be natural desire, but it’s not necessarily God’s. (As an aside, it’s interesting to not that it’s most common to hear the phrase, “God is good,” when someone is healed or a good report is given. It is much less common when that healing doesn’t come or a bad report is given.)
The ultimate joy for followers of God is to be made in to the image of his Son, Jesus. But just like it is necessary to put gold through the fire to rid it of any impurities in order to make it pure, God must take us through the fire to purify us by eliminating any residual effects of the flesh nature. While not fun at all, the joy we get to experience the more we become like Christ is well worth it.
The process cannot be shortcut if we want to experience that joy. So, what part of the purifying process have you been asking God to shortcut and take you directly to the joy? And I’m guessing that this is a prayer God did not answer with an “OK.”
When a theology of joy, when a theology of comfort, is taught apart from the theology found in Hebrews 12:2, we reveal ourselves to be just like the world and using its natural, earthly and demonic wisdom.
When this is truly our approach, God cannot trust us with much, if at all. I want God to be able to trust me. I need to examine the way I pray. How about you?