Joy must be tested. Hope must be unseen. Otherwise, how do I know where joy and hope come from? Do I have joy in the Lord or in His easy gifts? Is my hope in God's goodness or in my comfort?
In small group, we tossed around the tired, yet always appropriate question: Why do bad things happen to good people (to my cynical brain: why do good things happen to bad people)? That's an entire blog in itself. Not for today. What was said that stuck: God gives hard to chip away the sinful, self-loving parts so Christ shines through.
That's my week. God showered me with truth in January, opened up His word and poured blessings. February He asks: Did it stick? Was sin removed that Christ might reign?
Heavenly seeds fell, but on what soil?
Rocky soil? One joyous week of God's word, happy sprouts quickly shriveled and gone. A lesson that should have blessed my whole life withering from lack of care.
Weedy ground? Cares of life, overspent, over tired, crying baby, illness. God's true and beautiful word choked out by everything else screaming for my attention.
Rich soil? Accept truth and encourage growth through meditation. Recite memory verses through the migraine. Practice grace at end of failed nap time. Force roots deep and grounded.
Where does my joy come from?
Gwennan's Potty Chart - Stickers mark accidents verse successes. A chart for my parental goals. If I fail, does my joy fail? Am I worshipping Jesus or "successful Christian parenting"?
Everest of laundry - Does joy flag as work overwhelms?
More than that, 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. Romans 5:3-5
In the midst of small, everyday suffering, God is teaching real hope, real joy that finds its source in real Love.