Faith and joy in the midst...
Updated: Jan 7
1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV)
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
As I write this post I have a deep sadness within me from hearing this morning that my dad passed away. This day has an odd mixture of sadness and ironically inner and deep joy all mixed together. I might clarify that it is clearly not happiness but rather, it is a deeper inner joy. Joy can be found in the darkest and saddest places of life. I even see this morning that Joy can be found in the midst of COVID-19 where life seems so very different, and at times hard. This kind of deep Joy can be experienced in the midst of hard things. I can only testify that it comes to me from Jesus himself but also from all the loving people He puts in my life.
Biblically speaking, I have proof that Jesus weeps with me as I go through this hard time. He did that in the presence of Mary and Martha when they had all lost Lazarus. “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) I know from this emotional expression that Jesus felt and experienced the pain of his friends. I also realize that there was a deep faith expressed in His heavenly father in the midst of these grieving friends. When they might have been lacking faith, Jesus showed faith along with His emotions. What an example we have in the Son of God showing this kind of emotion within the context of a strong relationship with His Heavenly father. I clearly see that His tears came from a place that had an inner joy especially knowing that very soon there was going to be a resurrection. This morning my inner joy comes in knowing that my dad is resurrected, not like Lazarus but by becoming perfectly whole in the very presence of Almighty God. I have a certainty and joy in knowing that he is now without dementia and a failing body at the age of 93.
My hope for all of us as parents and grandparents is that we realize that we to can show kids in our lives what it means to have faith in God along with all the emotions. Let's show those looking up to us what faith looks like along with joy and all kinds of emotions all mixed together. I pray you will leave a great legacy with the next generation God has given you. Here are three of the many legacy gifts I received from my dad…
1. The gift of a Growing Faith
Both of my parents pretty much insisted on the four of us going to church every Sunday unless we were sick. Today that may be seen as a bit strict. Why would we not to allow your kids to make these kind of choices for themselves. For me, this insisting taught me about what was, and still is, most important…a relationship with God and others. We need to always etch out time to worship God, learn more about Him and hang out with other followers of Jesus. We not only did this religiously, we found that it was a growing and personal relationship that was growing and vibrant.
2. The gift of Committed and Sacrificial love
There are two main ways I saw this committed love in my dad. He loved to serve God by serving in the Church…The Body of Christ. He also had a committed and sacrificial love for the others God had place in his life. Love and faithfulness to my mom was where it started and went in turn to us as his children. I then witnessed him just loving others that were less fortunate than us in any way. My dad started a chicken farm when I was very young. One time we lost this entire small business in a very strong wind storm. I grew up in Salem Oregon where we had a storm now called the "October 12th Storm". I recall looking outside and seeing the chicken house flattened by a single strong gust of wind. My dad showed us his very sad emotions but at the same time a committed faithful love for God, for his family and for others around him. One thing he started doing right after that loss was weekly visiting an inmate in a local correctional facility. That inmate eventually came to our home and had a meal with us. What an example of committed and sacrificial love.
3. The gift of a daily Blessing
Today we call this "attention" or "approval" but Biblically they are blessings from one to another. God blessed my dad and he in turn blessed us and those around him. He took seriously “Blessed to be a blessing” which came from the example of God blessing Abraham to be a blessing to others in Genesis 12. I look back and now realize that I looked for approval or blessings as a young boy. I cherished every moment my dad said that I did a good job. It was acknowledgments that he was proud of me. I cherished the attention he would give to me if I had picked a lot of strawberries or if the jobs or chores had been done well around the house or farm. Approval from him was through showing up at my High School wrestling matches, cheering when I won, and encouraging me even when I lost. The greatest blessing came to me later in my life when he started asking me to pray at the family meals. Dad would say..."OK Reverend, you say the blessing" Honestly…I was quite embarrassed by the label "Reverend" but there was something deep in the core of my being that liked to hear it. I full well know that any follower of Jesus can be called Reverend not because they deserved it but rather because they profoundly realize they are sinners whose sins are forgiven by Jesus the Savior. That certainly was me so I was honored to thank Jesus for our food. I thank God for the blessings…the approval…the attention my dad gave others, my mom, each of his children, grandchildren, and then great grandchildren.
So parents, grandparents, people of God. Leave a legacy of Faith that is growing, a love that is sacrificial and may blessings of goodness, and mercy follow you all the days of your lives.
Let's pray ~ Jesus, help each of us to have a growing faith, a committed love for those you put in our lives. Holy Spirit remind us to bless others because we realize that we are so very blessed by You.
It's in your name Jesus we pray,