Today I was privileged to be in the right place at the right time. For starters I get depressed Thursday evenings knowing I have to get up the next morning, make my menu/grocery list and go grocery shopping with my 4 year old (not too bad) and my almost 2 year old son (not always the most pleasant). But as I made my list this morning I was happy to realize that I could buy everything I needed at Aldi and thus would have time and energy to also finally go to the post office to buy stamps. I HATE running out of stamps and finding the time to go to the post office! So I went to a post office we recently discovered in a office building where we’d gone to get fingerprinted. On our way out we offered to help a man jump-start his car. Which didn’t work so we also offered to give him a ride home. (Just so you know, I only offered because there was also a woman with him. As much as I would love to offer every one I see a ride I know to be careful.) Turns out they lived a block away from several of our friends close to our church offices. I’m wishing I had invitations to our Black History Celebration to give to him. Would it be inappropriate to go back over to their house to give them one? I felt so fulfilled and joyful for the opportunity to serve. Even though it was cold and it took up time and effort, God really does give a fresh and energizing kind of joy when we serve others.
My women’s Bible study at church has been doing a study by John Piper called “The Blazing Center: The Soul-Satisfying Supremacy of God in All Things.” His main theme is that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” This week he added onto that “…especially when we maintain joy in him in suffering.” He brought up four chapters in Hebrews that support this.
Hebrews 10:32-34 talks about Christians who were willing to go to prison and suffer for the sake of knowing Christ. And also Christians who were willing to be connected with those suffering and “joyfully accepted the plundering if their property” for it. Why? Because they knew they had a better possession in knowing Christ.
Hebrews 11:24-26 talks about how Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter when he grew up. He chose to be mistreated with the people of God rather than enjoy the “fleeting pleasures of sin.” Why? “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
The ultimate example of joy in suffering is of course Christ. The author of Hebrews (12:1-2) tells us to look to Christ as our example. Christ endured the cross…”for the joy set before him.”
Lastly, Hebrews 13:12-14 calls us to be willing to bear the reproach (disgrace, shame – I had to look it up in the dictionary) that Christ endured “for here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
“Through Christ then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb. 13:15-16) Piper refers to all these believers as “strange people” doing strange things but that we should daily be praying that God would make us into strange people too. What strange things are you doing for the kingdom of God?