You ever read those words in Scripture and cringed? I know I have. I love following Jesus, as long as the pastures are green and the waters are still. I like the restoring of the soul. I like the feasting in the presence of the enemies. I like the safety found in the rod and the staff. These are things I can "get into." But when I read the words, 'Count it all joy when you face trials and test (tribulations.)" I have to admit it is not something I look forward to.
I like when I read of the times of peace that the people of God enjoy. The protection under His wings. The fact He is a strong tower and a refuge. I really like where it talks about Him being the Prince of Peace! These things make my heart feel at ease. On the opposite side of the coin, I am not a huge fan of the mention of wars and rumor of wars. We constantly read in the Scriptures of the times the people of God lived in caves, scratching out food from the wilderness, and even Jesus being tempted in the desert after 40 days without food. We see attacks on His people. We read of the disciples being martyred and killed just like Jesus. I prefer the talk of the Peace over the reality of the War.
However, I am constantly reminded of the fact we are at War. Recently my wife asked me a question, a very deep and honest question. "Why does it have to be so hard?" This question was born out of the reality of our circumstances in life. It seems like every corner we turn, there is another difficulty or struggle to face (from our current American perspective that is.) The only answer I could offer was this, "We are in the middle of a war, we have openly said we were going to attack lies of the Enemy and offer Truth. Can we really expect it to be easy?"
Now do not get me wrong. I prefer easy. I prefer peace and quiet. I prefer not to rock the boat. I like my comfortable American life. I like it when my family has more than we really need. I like when the bank account shows a cushion. I like it when we can go out and eat a nice or even fancy meal. I like it when we don't have to worry about which bill to pay today. I prefer it when I have a clear focus on making the next deal so we can have another check come in. I prefer life on "Easy Street," but I have to remind myself, that is not what I was called to. I have been invited to join my Good Shepherd at the forefront of the battle. I have been asked to lay down my life for the sake of others. I have been asked to count it joy when life throws difficulties at me. I have been called to rejoice when God give AND when He takes away. I may have to grit my teeth, but I have been called to always say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
If you are facing trials and are being tested, count it all joy that God has consider you worthy to be tested and tried. Life here is not what we are to be living for. This is not our home. As I was reminded yesterday, "Live with the End in mind!" As a child of the King, as a brother and co-inheritor with Jesus, and as a sheep in the pasture of the Good Shepherd, regardless of how much or how little I have, I am of all people truly blessed simply because I am His and He is mine!