I have seen the above snow scene with its accompanying advice posted on facebook several times lately. And most recently by my preaching colleague John Maddocks in Toronto, Canada. I suspect John will have opportunities for a lot of joy this winter.
While this thought may elicit a chuckle, it speaks to a universal truth and a Biblical principle. Accept the inevitable. Learn to be content. And find joy in all circumstances.
The apostle Paul expressed it this way.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:11-13).
Paul had faced more serious situations in his life than just a snowy winter. During his years of ministry he had suffered shipwreck four times. He had received 39 lashes from a whip five times. Three times he was beaten with rods. And once he was stoned. Now he was writing from a Roman prison and his life hung in the balance.
Yet in the little book of Philippians he speaks of “joy” or “rejoicing” 18 times. Paul’s joy was founded in his faith. And his rejoicing was in his relationship with Christ. As a result he experienced joy, even while imprisoned, because Christ was preached. His fellowship with these brethren brought him joy. And he could joyfully anticipate the coming of Christ. So, he would admonish these brethren, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)
Too often as Christians, we waste time grumbling and griping about our “lot in life.” Especially in America, life has become so easy we resort to complaining about the weather. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. There’s too much snow. There’s no snow. There’s too much rain. There’s not enough rain. I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s quip in this regard, “Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
While grousing about the weather may be relatively minor, it is often indicative of an attitude of constantly complaining about everything. People grumble about their jobs. Their neighborhood. Their house. And even their spouses.
We gripe about our politicians and the state of politics in our country. Maybe watching too much cable news leads to a heightened state of dysphoria. Less may be better.
I recently read of list of the top 40 things people complain about. It included slow internet. Global warming. Traffic. In-laws. Co-workers. Not having anything to wear. And, of course, people complaining.
When we fall into the habit of bellyaching, it breeds discontentment. Discouragement. And even depression. And it saps the joy out of our Christianity.
Maybe this is why we see too many Christians attending church services with little fervor or feeling in their worship. If we’re not careful we can allow the challenges of life to sap “the joy of our salvation.”
Granted there are serious situations that burden our hearts and weigh heavy on our minds. There are burdens we must bear. And sometimes we need the help of others to shoulder the load. Yet, even through trials, the Bible says we can find an occasion for joy as the problems make us stronger (Jas. 1:3).
Bible expositor, William Barclay, expressed it this way: “There is no virtue in the Christian life which is not made radiant with joy; there is no circumstance and no occasion which is not illuminated with joy. A joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is the one constant in the recipe of Christian living.”
Remember, “the fruit of the spirit is joy” (Gal. 5:22).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman