The greater the challenge, the greater the victory. A different way of living that is empowering.
What is the difference between someone that wins a 100m race at high school and someone that wins a 100m race at the Olympics? Greatness! The size of the victory! The person that won the 100m race at school would have felt victorious in the moment, however, the person that won the 100m race at the Olympics would have felt like he was on the top of the world. The size of the challenge is directly related to the size of the victory. The smaller the challenge, the smaller the victory, and the greater the challenge, the greater the victory. If the size of the challenges that we face directly relate to the size of the victories we have, why do we avoid greater challenges and more challenging situations? The reason is simple - we have a fear of failure. We fear failure. When the challenges in our lives are greater, the level of fear we have increases also. The other reason is our inability to experience joy, regardless of the situations that we face in life. If we experience joy, whether we win the 100m race or lose it, then we become relentless. We become unstoppable. Nothing can reduce our joy, and because nothing can, nothing will. If nothing can negatively affect our level of joy, then nothing is impossible and nothing is difficult. Wouldn't it be great to live a life where nothing is difficult, where everything, no matter what it might be, leads us to a place of joy? That is what this blog is about - how joy is our strength and how addiction to affliction is an opportunity.
Nehemiah 8:10 - The joy of the Lord is your strength.
Divine joy is tied to trials, persecution and affliction in the Bible. We see this from Acts 13 onwards. The reason it is tied is due to the changes that have taken place in the church during this time. The apostles were dealing with believers that were mature, and struggling to apply the Gospel to their lives. Opposition and challenges started coming - political and economic challenges. Today, it is much the same. There are challenges which we face. The reason why a challenge results in a victory is because, whether we beat the challenge or not, it is an occasion for joy. James 1:2 - "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials." Any affliction that you face is an occasion for joy. We will suffer. The reason we must find joy is that we are suffering for our Lord, our Creator. 1 Peter 4:12-13 - "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." Exceeding joy!
"Any affliction that we face is an occasion for joy."
Among the most joyful accounts in the Bible, many are letters written by Paul during his imprisonment (Acts 28: 16-31). Paul wrote the books, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon during his time in prison - he gave encouragement when he needed encouragement. He was imprisoned and referred to his affliction as "light affliction" when compared to the "eternal weight of glory." Romans 8:18 - " For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Sufferings are those things in our lives such as persecutions and sicknesses - all things that believers are called to endure. These sufferings are so small in comparison to the scale and magnitude of our future glory. Our future glory is eternal, and cannot become dim or diminish over time. You do not compare things that are small with things that are large, in order to explain the size, breadth and magnitude of what which is small, but to explain the size, breadth and magnitude of that which is large. Comparing the earth to the sun enables us to understand how small earth is and how large the sun is. What Paul is saying here, is that our sufferings are so small in comparison to our future glory, that the two cannot even be compared. Comparing them would be a waste of time. That is how small our sufferings are. When we understand how small they are in the grand scheme of things, we can't help but find joy. If our sufferings are the size of the earth, our future glory will be the size of all the galaxies, combined, multiplied by infinity.
"Paul wrote the books, Ephesians, Philippians, Collosians and Philemon during his time in prison - he gave encouragement when he needed encouragement."
In 2 Corinthians 7:4, Paul speaks of his joy in the midst of his afflictions, "Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation." Paul finds joy in tribulation. However, Paul not only finds joy in the tribulations that he faces. He also lives in joy - 2 Corinthians 6:10 - "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” Regardless of the situations we face, there is always a positive. You may have no earthly possessions, but yet you have everything. These afflictions that we experience result in patience - James 1:2-4 - "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." We must find joy, when our faith gets tested, because the end result is patience. And patience enables us to be complete. When we lack patience, we complain, lose our temper, become agitated and irritated. A lack of patience results in a lack of joy. They are both linked together. You cannot be joyful when you lack patience and you cannot have patience when you lack joy. Joy and patience, practiced over time, enables us to lack nothing. Having joy, regardless of affliction, at all times, means that you lack nothing because the attainment of something does not result in greater joy - you already have the divine joy.
To lack nothing. Isn't that the goal that most people around us have? If you lack nothing, that means you have obtained everything that you want and need. It means that there is nothing out there that you need to buy or do because you lack nothing. At this moment in my life, there is nothing that I lack because I have everything I can possibly need. I didn't always have this perspective, but joy allows me to lack nothing. Yes, there are things that I dream of buying one day and places that I would like to visit. However, these are simply things that I can do on Earth, on the planet that God gave us. The reality is this - every one of us came from nothing. We were nothing but now we are something. Created for a purpose and provided with spiritual gifts. Therefore, if we were nothing and now have eternal life, is it not true that we have everything we could possibly have and have no reason not to be joyful?
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