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He doesn’t tell us to look on the bright side. He doesn’t tell us make the most of a bad situation. He tells us to count all trials as pure joy. Pure joy.
But why? But how?
It’s not trivializing the painfulness of life In fact, it’s an intense longing for painfulness to go away. To one day lack nothing. When he says pure joy, he means it. He means it because for the disciple of Christ the perseverance will bring us to the place where we are at last complete.
He says long for it. Long for it more than you want life’s difficulties to just go away now. Do you want to lack no good thing that much?
The authors of the Bible couldn’t shake the dream. They gazed on the promises.
“They dreamed of a new age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise, and the wise, humble. They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease, and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps. People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder; all humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God, and delight in God.” ~ Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
The psalmist longs for it. He is so certain that obedience is the path to his highest happiness, and he is so fully convinced that he cannot obey unless he has learned God’s commands. So he wants to learn God’s commands at any cost. His able to say, and he slowly teaches me to say,
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statues.
And when I honestly don’t want blessing enough to count my trials as pure joy, he trains my heart to long for it again.
(The passage referenced at the beginning of this post is James 1:2-4.)
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