Thursday, January 10, 2013

"A Different Way of Thinking"   

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ not only calls us to think different things, but to think in a different way.   

"I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians12:10).   

The Apostle Paul's testimony seems like the babbling of a fool to those who do not know his Lord or the counter intuitive way of Christ in the lives of believers.  Rather than the human norm of "feeling" pleasure in the pleasant things, Paul discovered a Divine norm of "taking" pleasure in difficult things.  By this the Apostle meant that in our present existence, God's greatest working in our lives often occurs "in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake."  Indeed, when trouble comes, believers do well to replace our initial response of discomfort with the remembrance that our faith began with a cross of terrible loss that made possible "an eternal weight of glory" beyond all imagination and expectation (II Corinthians4:17).   

Again, we "take" pleasure in difficulties.  This involves an internal determination of faith that initially (and often, for a season) runs completely counter to our emotional experience.  Confidence in God does not instantly elicit happiness of feeling in many cases.  The pleasure of faith involves the choice of believing our Lord and His truth in that place within us far deeper than emotion.  Our surface feelings often run completely counter to the peace within our hearts as we affirm to our Lord, "I trust You, praise You, and thank You in this matter, Lord, and seek Your glory and will for Christ's sake."  Again, Paul well knew such experience, testifying to the Corinthians: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (II Corinthians 4:8-9).    

How blessed our Heavenly Father must be, when with troubled, perplexed souls, and emotional and physical distress, we nevertheless look to Him in faith?  Moreover, how greatly we honor and reveal Him: "Whoso offereth  praise glorifieth Me" (Psalm 50:23).  Those who "take" the pleasure known in the spirit by trusting God when the feelings of the emotions and body flow in a different direction know the truth of different thoughts, and even more, a different way of thinking.  They know that crosses presage resurrections, and that the presence of our Lord is often in direct proportion to the appearance of His absence.  Our faith began in this way strange to the flesh, but blessed to the spirit.  It will continue until that day when God shall wipe away all tears, and a long eternity of "feeling" the pleasures of His glory will ensue.

"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."(II Corinthians 6:10)

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