Uncomfortable Joy

Last Sunday, Pastor Jason Finley preached the sermon “Behold the Glory of the Lord” from 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6. We explored the fact that true life results from beholding the glory of the Lord through the power of the gospel.

Read: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

This Sunday, Pastor Jason Smith will preach from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18, encouraging us not to lose heart but remember that our afflictions are actively being used for God’s glory, our good, and for building God’s kingdom. As you prepare your heart for Sunday worship, let this devotional from Paul Tripp aid your meditation upon this Scripture.

Reflect: “Uncomfortable Joy”

Through difficult relationships and circumstances, God works to expose your heart so you will seek the grace that can be found only in him.

Where does your mind go, where does your heart run, when difficulty enters your door? None of us likes to suffer. None of us enjoys dealing with the unexpected. We all like our plans to work and our dreams to come true. We all want a life that is comfortable and predictable. The normal person simply doesn’t esteem the spiritual value of hardship. Because of this, it tends to be difficult for us to stay on God’s agenda page. If our goal for our lives is temporal personal happiness, whatever our definition of that may be, then we’re going to live in a street-level agenda conflict with our Savior, no matter what our confessional theology may be.

Many Christians live right there. They say they believe in the truths of Scripture, they say they have placed their trust in the Messiah, but they live in an unspoken state of disappointment, irritation, impatience, or frustration with God. This state is often characterized by this classic question: “If God loves me, then why would he _____?” Let’s unpack the question.

First, there is no “if” to the love of God. As the psalmist says, “his steadfast love endures forever!” (Ps. 118:1). His love is never fickle. It never grows weary. It will never run out. This means it is never up for question. Second, consider the content of the question. Rather than asking, “What good and wise thing is the God who loves me doing in what doesn’t seem good and wise?” the question immediately expresses doubt about the character of God. The answer to this kind of question never leads you anywhere spiritually good.

Here’s the bottom line: you and I struggle with the faithfulness of God, not because he has been unfaithful, but because we have. You may be thinking, “Paul, what are you talking about?” From day one, God has clearly communicated his zeal to us. It is his purpose that, by the means of rescuing, forgiving, transforming grace, we would be brought into relationship with him, and in the context of that relationship, be fully molded into the image of his Son. He has never promised us that he will deliver to us our personal definition of the good life. Rather, he has promised that he will use all the tools at his disposal to complete the work of redemption that he has begun in our hearts and lives. He has not been unfaithful. He has kept every one of his promises. He will do what he said.

Our problem is that we tend to be unfaithful to his holy agenda and get kidnapped by our plans for us and our dreams for our lives. The trials in our lives exist not because he has forgotten us, but because he remembers us and is changing us by his grace. When you remember that, you can have joy in the middle of what is uncomfortable.

June 17th Devotional, in New Morning Mercies, by Paull Tripp

Sing: Song List for Sunday

1. “Praise the King,” Arr. Shane & Shane
2. “Cornerstone,” by Hillsong Worship
3. “In Christ Alone,” Arr. Passion

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