Monday, September 8, 2008

Romans 4-5

All week, I have been thinking about how grumpy I am. I have been wondering about this "joy of the Lord" business. If the Joy of the Lord is supposed to be my strength, my lack of it is clearly the reason I keep failing at doing what I want to do. Then, what do you know? Right there in my reading for this entry, Romans 5:1-5 is all over me:

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God's grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God's glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.

We have joy with our troubles because of the hope we have of sharing God's glory. What am I supposed to do with that? I read another blog this week where the writer wrote an interview with a dead friend. He does not seem to believe in Christ or heaven, but at the same time, he was grappling with the idea that everything can be really bad in "life," but it's still OK in the big picture. That's what this is all about. God does not think my problems aren't bad. He is saving every tear in a jar. It's just that he knows that everything is also OK, and He has given me a way to plug into that. It's my choice whether I want to take the small view and have sorrow alone, or take the larger view and have both sorrow and joy, knowing that someday I will have only the joy.

Easier said than done. I've heard a dude by the name of Zig Ziglar put this concept this way - not a quote, just my paraphrase:
The transition from believing that God promises life to having faith in that promise is like the change in how a girl thinks of her wedding day when she becomes engaged. Every little girl, to some degree, dreams of being a bride. She looks at magazines and imagines what it will be like for her. Girls used to keep a "hope chest" of all the things they collected for thier future wedding day. Then, one day, a man puts an engagement ring on her finger, and all the hopes and "ifs" become possibilities and "whens."

I was not the girl who had fantasies of being the Princess in my wedding gown, and when I got engaged, I started looking on e-bay for a dress. Maybe that's why I'm having such a hard time with this joy thing? I don't have a huge capacity for dreaming of "happily ever after." Still, the second part of the verse resonates with me. I have felt hope, and I have felt love. These things are what sustains me, and I have always thought that they were enough. I guess I'm starting to question that now.


Suz said...

Romans 5 is my favorite chapter in the entire Bible. When I was a freshman in college, I went to West Virginia for a college ministry conference (I don't know if you remember that...) Anyway, I was asked to do a reading during our New Year's Eve midnight service, and that's what my reading was from. I've been hooked ever since. People keep saying how impressed they are with how well I've been handling everything, how strong I am, etc, and to be perfectly honest, Romans 5 has played a huge role in that. You know better than anyone how NOT strong I have been, how NOT well I've been able to handle things, but I'm developing patience, and I like the chain reaction that comes with patience from sorrow and trials.

Another way to look at it, with the big picture analogy is to always remember that every beautiful picture has dark colors in it, too. There are shadows, blacks, greys, etc., and without them, the picture would look kind of ridiculous. You can do the math and elaborate out the colors of emotions in your big picture of life on your own, I'm sure. :-)

Love you.