The lessons God is speaking to me through the Holy Spirit have to do with courage and joy....possibly because, in the flesh, my norm would be fear and a bent towards being critical. In my daily quiet times, I've been reading 2 chapters in the Pentateuch, 1 chapter of Poetry/Wisdom lit, 1 chapter in the Gospels and 1 in the Epistles. Courage, surrender, joy - woven throughout all my readings.
Romans 5:1 - 12. I'm instructed to exult in the hope of God - the grace in which I stand, in the reconciliation God provides, but in between those two - "exult in tribulation." I'm told in James 1:2 - to "Choose joy when I encounter various trials...."
"Just do it," doesn't offer much practical help.
First - though many translations translate "exult" as rejoice or joy - it is NOT the word for rejoice or joy - it means to boast, glory, exult - confident joy comes close.*
I'm still questioning. HOW do I exult in tribulations. I find the start of an answer in the rest of the verses.....
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, ..." Romans 5:3-5a
HOW do we glory, boast, exhibit confident joy in the middle of tribulations, afflictions, trials?
We LOOK BEYOND!
I'm not psychotic. I don't love the pain. I do love to see God at work. I see Him pruning, maintaining, growing my faith. I know He redeems the pain. He is good. He will accomplish good. IF I LOOK BEYOND the confusion, the uncertainty, the grief of lost dreams.
I focus beyond - to the perseverance He is building into my life. Hupomeno - the same word used in James 1 and translated as patience or endurance. This is the ability to stand up under pressure. To bear up, endure, circumstances and things. This hupomeno, built into my life as I choose joy and exhibit confidence, will not allow me to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trails. It allows me to be patient, to persevere, to be constant and confident in pain.** (Irony - endurance/hupomeno was my one word in 2014 and I couldn't definitively settle on a new word for 2015 - He wasn't done teaching.)
I asked God to make me strong in faith, able to stand in the fire or the lion's den. I asked for growing faith as we transitioned from military ministry to ministry in the civilian sphere. I suspect this type of enduring faith is only forged in the furnace. It takes trials to grow. I asked for this - though I certainly didn't think I asked for it. ::snort:: In fact, I've been telling God, "I DIDN'T ASK FOR THIS" and only recently realized I certainly did ask for this. Endurance is built into my life as I learn to LOOK BEYOND.
God is working beyond the trial, the pain, the un-fullfilled dreams, fear and way-laid plans. His work is good. It begins with this perseverance and continues to produce proven character and hope - which never disappoints. This perseverance, we are in told in James 1:4, results in a mature faith. The very thing my heart desires.
I don't know that this is the full answer. I do know if I focus on the loss, uncertainty, strange symptoms Michael is fighting, and craziness of this season I am overwhelmed each-and-every-time!
Did you catch perseverance does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trails? I must LOOK BEYOND and choose confident joy in the face of the trial - and I will NOT surrender or succumb to the trial. By LOOKING BEYOND I surrender to the work and purposes of a good and loving God.
*exult - 2744 Kauchaomai
**perseverance - 5281 Hupomeno