I used to think faith was the absence of doubt. Now I believe that doubts are what we work through to strengthen our faith. I used to think joy was the absence of troubles. Now I believe that troubles are what we work through to experience joy. A lot of my readers are sad today because we lost a special friend unexpectedly. I think most of us think of the word “friend” when we think of Brian. He was gifted at knowing how to care. I think our entire country feels sad right now. The news reports a young man who chose to shoot randomly into a crowd of people who had waited in line, bought popcorn and were excited to be watching a movie. James Holmes had no concept of the high value of life. The same news reports a hero who protected his girlfriend from being hurt in that theater and lost his life in the process. Matt McQuinn knew how to value someone’s life more than his own. Penn State is condemned for ignoring abuse, fearing it would harm the reputation and status of a football program. The courts deleted the “history” of the program, but they can’t delete the personal histories of those that were abused. A monsignor is sentenced to prison for allowing pedophile priests to return to positions of “trust” in the church. And almost every political ad encourages me to find the box marked “none of the above” and place my vote there. The circumstances aren’t great right now. But I still believe the last post I wrote. God is greater, and far above the world’s circumstances. So today I am sad, but I choose joy. So can you. Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet who watched as his beloved Israel grew less faithful and more corrupt. He begins his book saying, “How long O Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:1) Faith isn’t the absence of doubt, it is trusting that God will help you work through your questions. Towards the end of his “book” Habakkuk writes, “Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the fields or cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Joy is not the absence of troubles, it is finding the Savior in the midst of them. Your life is about more than what will happen today. Your life is more important to God than you can imagine. And your life is your loudest sermon. Can people find the Savior when they look at your choices?
Sadness is normal. If God had not intended us to cry, he would not have created tear ducts! When you are sad, cry, empty the pain and then let God fill the void with his joy. If my friend Brian could be my “guest blogger” today, he would tell you to rejoice and make sure you stay close to God. Heaven is real and it is so much more than our human vocabulary can describe. Brian knows nothing BUT joy right now. Nations, cultures, and news events cannot take away God’s promises. If you are a Christian, Jesus has already built you a mansion. (I hope mine is ocean-front property! That would be so GREAT!!!) This world is going to move forward, and one day it will be gone. Spend the rest of your life getting to heaven – and bringing as many with you as you possibly can. Today, choose joy. It is often what draws people to ask you about Jesus!
And if you are reading this post, and wondering “if” you will go to heaven one day, find me or someone else and ask how to be certain. Faith is not the absence of doubt – just ask, study and pray until you know. And if you are sad right now, know with certainty that joy is not the absence of troubles – it is the gift God provides in the midst of them. Choose joy because you have chosen Jesus.