Why Jesus is My Hero #40 of 52
Real life is hard work. It’s full of ups and downs, and sometimes the downs are really down. Even when life is up we’re good at filling it with worries and anxieties about the fact that it might not stay that way for long, and that a down might be just around the corner.
I think many of us probably long to be the kinds of people who are better at rolling with the punches. The Bible talks a lot about the importance of “steadfastness”, which amongst other things conjures up images of not being discouraged when things don’t go your way – of standing firm whilst the waves crash all around you. But how do we get that way? How do we remain steadfast amidst the disappointments and challenges of daily life?
I’ve said before recently that I’m increasingly seeing the importance of joyfulness in life – and I think that for the Christian person, an attitude of joy and thankfulness is one of our key weapons in the fight. But how are we to remain joyful and thankful when tragedy strikes? How do you rejoice when you lose your job, or when you’re anxious about money or about your health?
It doesn’t completely answer the question fully, but one passage that I think is really helpful in thinking about this is Philippians 3. It’s one of the go-to passages on joy in the Bible:
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.”
In other words, Paul is saying “I might as well tell you to rejoice, even if I’ve said it a hundred times before – I love talking about joy, so it’s really no trouble for me, and it’ll be really good for your souls, so hopefully you’ll not get bored of me banging on about it.”
Philippians is a letter written by Paul as he’s languishing in jail, so it’s somewhat surprising that he should be so focussed on rejoicing. So what is Paul’s secret – what is it that enables him to be rejoicing in the midst of his suffering? “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him”
For Paul, the gospel is THE number one most exciting thing in his life. His relationship with Jesus Christ is more precious to him than absolutely anything else. He’s so excited about the fact that he gets to spend eternity with Jesus, that absolutely everything else seems irrelevant by comparison. Stuck in jail because he’s a follower of Jesus? Totally worth it – he’s got an eternity of true freedom to look forward to. Hated by his fellow Jews because of apparently turning his back on the law? Who cares what men may think of him, when the creator of the entire universe loves him? Poor and destitute and whipped and beaten and shipwrecked and generally looking like a failure by the world’s standards? Hardly worth batting an eyelid over, given the heavenly riches he has to look forward to in the New Creation.
You see, when you recognise the immense value of the one thing you DO have, you start to care a little less about all those other things you lack. When Jesus becomes supremely precious to us, we find ourselves enabled to rejoice in the midst of all kinds of difficult circumstances. So long as our saviour is with us, our first love, we can accept a little temporary suffering and hardship – especially knowing that He is ultimately in charge and will not permit anything that isn’t for our eternal good.
I really hope and pray that you will find grace to rejoice and thank God for the gospel in the midst of whatever you’re going through right now. God is a good and loving Father to those who trust in him through Jesus Christ. I don’t know what you’re struggling with right now, but I do know that he’s promised to bring us to be with him if we’re Christians, and live with him in a world free from the sin and suffering that so mars this world.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Now that’s something to rejoice in!