CHEERFUL BY CHOICE
Extra from Volume 10#2
by Angela W.
In the past few months God has been teaching me along the lines of “learning to give thanks, rejoice, and die in all things.” I am excited to share what I have been learning. I have gained so much freedom as I embrace life as a tool from the Lord sent especially to perfect me, and grow me in the stature of Christ. In such a light, there is no such thing as “a bad day.” There are no inconveniences. Sure, my flesh feels a little neglected, but my spirit knows that that is a good thing.
The Bible is the most victorious, triumphant, cheerful Book there is. As I grow in Christ and study His Word, the more I see His heart towards living a victorious, triumphant, cheerful life. And not just on good occasions—but continually. There is much in the Scripture that exhorts us to continue, to abide, to be. For example:
“If ye continue in My word.” John 8:31
“Abide in Me.” John 15:5
“Continue ye in My love.” John 15:9
“Abide in My love.” John 15:10
“Persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Acts 13:43
“Exhorting them to continue in the faith.” Acts 14:22
“Let brotherly love continue.” Hebrews 13:1
And lest we become weary before we even get started, God givs the clincher, and the Gospel comes so alive: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
We have no excuse.
Abiding and continuing are closely related to the word “maintaining.” Personally, I think “maintaining” sounds like we are just barely keeping to the minimum of cheerfulness, just getting by because we are supposed t, you know. Life from the Spirit of God is so much more robust than that, however. It is a pressing toward the mark for the praise of the high calling in christ. It is an active continuing in the grace of God; not a passive maintaining of the spiritual graces.
Over the past few months, I have been overwhelmed by many issues—but one choice. The issues ranged from animal problems to vehicle problems to other big or little problems, and on top of al this, the cares of family life and dynamics. The choice was “How am I going to handle this?”
Psalm 66:12 carries both sides of the question. I could say, “Lord, You have caused men to ride over our heads; we've gone through fire and through water.” Or I could say, “Lord, You have brought us out into a wealthy place.” The choice had to be made and the evidence was stacked against me. We had been and were going through fire and water. But “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) The truth is, God had brought us out into a wealthy place. But the truth also is, we do not measure wealth as God does. What humans see as bad luck and problems and tribulations, God sees as opportunities and refineries. “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) So though the “way leads through fire and water,” God knows it and His desire is to bring us forth a rare and precious treasure. Truly God's classroom is a wealthy place and His tools of education are as many and varied as the issues and prole ms we face.
Giving up our “right” to complain and self-pity is not easy. Often we must make a mind-over-matter decision whether we feel like it or not. But as we practice this obedience, it will become more natural to us. “Here have we no continuing city,” (so why do we live in anxiety and frustrations as if this earth was our final destination?) “but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually,” (there is that “continually business again!) “that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) Sacrifice is right. But lest we take on the attitude, “Oh dear, we must sacrifice this too!” Look at Psalm 54:6, “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.” That is our calling. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” He freely sacrifices Himself for us.
Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” It sounds so simple—be of good cheer. That is because it is simple—for “He has overcome the world”! Our place is not to consult with how hard our life is or how many troubles we are facing just now. In the world, these things will be, but in Christ we shall have peace. But not just peace—because of our peace, our trust, our faith, our view of the broader picture, we will have cheer. We are joyful in knowing Christ and in knowing that all things come together for good to those that love God.
One of my favorite Amy Carmichael quotes is “See in it a chance to die.” That is the secret. Ask God for the grace to see everything that way. Apply this principle to the huge things in your life and in the minute things—and I mean the minute things—all of them—and your life will be a victory song. What I love to add to Amy's exhortation is “See in it a chance to rejoice and give thanks.” If you do this, your attitude will be one of peaceful cheer pressing continually forward. It is so exciting to view circumstances through these lenses, and it is also contagious. Make it a habit to say to yourself, Thank you Lord, for this opportunity to rejoice and to die to my way, my desires, my ambitions” Right there you can combine thanksgiving rejoicing, and dying—the three ingredients to a consistent life of victory and triumph. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22) “Here Lord, take this one too—and this one—while I continue to in cheerfulness BECAUSE YOU HAVE OVERCOME.”