Joy and God’s sovereignty

Joy is knowing God has everything under control. He knows what He is doing and He does all things well. The key to joy is to embrace everything in life as God’s will for you.

Two of the most joyful Christians I know of kept this truth foremost in their minds all the time:

Yiu Zhenling, known as Brother Yun, committed his life to Jesus Christ at 16 and began to memorize the Bible, one chapter per day. In his first year as a Christian he led 2,000 people to Christ. He began the underground church in Communist China and became the country’s most-wanted man. Imprisoned three times, he was interrogated, threatened, kicked, brutally beaten and tortured with electric batons almost daily.

But, like the apostle Paul, Yun’s attitude was, “I am not your prisoner. I am a prisoner of the Lord!” He saw everything that happened to him as a privilege, not just allowed but caused by a loving Father who used these things to draw him into the sufferings of Christ, with the promise of the glory of Christ to follow.

Brother Lawrence, 17th century French monk, wrote, “God knows best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good. If we knew how much He loves us, we should always be ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter. All would please that came from Him. Sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light. When we see them as dispensed by the hand of God. . . our sufferings will lose their bitterness and become even matter of consolation.”

Embracing everything as God’s will for us isn’t the same as fatalism and it isn’t masochism. It’s seeing life as “Father-filtered” and God as the “blessed controller of all things.” The timid girl, “Much-Afraid,” in Hannah Hurnard’s Hind’s Feet in High Places learned it as “Acceptance-with-Joy.” This applies not only to suffering but to the daily disappointments and irritations of life.

That doesn’t mean we can’t confide to the Father how we feel about our circumstances and ask Him to change them or show us what He wants us to learn through them.

To rejoice is a choice: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: ‘Rejoice!'” (Philippians 4:4)

Remember Job 1:1-2:7? The enemy has to get God’s permission to test us: “If our Heavenly Father does not permit it, who can do anything to you?” Brother Yun (“Joy in Persecution,” from my series on Preparing for Persecution)


About Jessica Renshaw
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