Over the last month, with my focus on joy, one thing I have learned is that we must look at things with the proper perspective. We can choose to let the things in life overwhelm and stress us, or we can choose to trust God and choose joy.
There are things in this life that are going to be difficult. It's just a fact. We can pray that those things be taken from us...and sometimes, that prayer will be answered. But, there are times that it is God's will for us to proceed through those times - for our own good, or for the good of someone else. It may not seem good at the time...but like Jesus, and even Paul, there is joy before us.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus endured the cross and death because He knew the purpose of it...the salvation of those who believe. We may not always know the purpose of things that are difficult in our lives...but God does. If we trust God, we can trust that there is a purpose for our sufferings.
Paul understood this, too....
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul, in prison, is torn between wanting to die and be with Christ and knowing that his purpose in living is not over.
Where is our focus in hard times? Are we choosing to focus on our own discomfort? Or on God's purpose and will for us...and the future joy He promises? It's all in the perspective. What will you choose?