Having grown up in church, I’ve heard a lot of sermons in my life. Sure, there were a few years there when I refused to attend church, but I can still safely say that the vast majority of my Sunday mornings have been spent in church listening to a preacher reading scripture and applying it to people’s lives.
I’ll admit, I’m guilty of not remembering a lot of those sermons I’ve heard. In fact, I’d say there have been times when I’ve been hard pressed to remember the subject of a sermon the very afternoon after hearing one. I feel like I’m able to retain more of what I’ve heard these days thanks to the miracle of podcasts. It also helps that I’m part of a small group that studies the subject covered by the sermon from the previous Sunday.
One sermon has stuck with me, though. It’s something that I constantly need to remind myself of, especially after days like Tuesday.Honestly, what I’m remembering may not have even been part of a sermon at all. What I do know is that my campus minister at Bluefield College expressed that he was tired of hearing Christians say they were doing okay… under the circumstances. Really, it could have just been a rant that occurred during a lunch conversation. Either way, it made an impact.
What are Christians doing under the circumstances? Don’t get me wrong, everyone goes through their share of crap. Some go through more than their share. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right: life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. But Christians are supposed to have hope, and joy, and peace that comes from a different place than our circumstances.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5
There’s no promise that says a person will have it easy when they become a follower of Christ. Jesus told His followers that they would need to take up their cross and follow Him. In our modern world, we don’t always consider the implication of taking up a cross. To me, it would be like someone saying, “Think of the worst, most painful torture you can imagine and go through that.”
Everyone will find themselves under difficult circumstances from time to time. The difference, for the Christian, is that there is a hope that comes on the other side of life’s circumstances. Christ offers eternal life, the source of hope for His followers, which should cause uncontrollable joy to spring out of Christians, no matter our day-to-day stresses.
It’s all too easy to lose sight of our hope and that springing joy. I need only look at my typical day and realize how easy it can be to lose sight of joy. But I should be able to get through my most difficult days and still express the kind of joyful attitude that causes people to stop and take notice.
So to anyone who has encountered me in recent days and experienced my dreadful attitude, I’m sorry. I’ve been letting those pesky circumstances get in the way of the joy in my heart. I’m still gonna screw up when I have a bad day, but I’m so grateful that the source of my joy comes from an unending supply.