“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenver you face trial of many kinds…” James 1:2 (NIV)
Africa has its own unique set of oddities. There’s a such thing as “African time” which bears no resemblance to real time. The problem with being punctual in Cape Town is that I’m the only one there to appreciate it! Discussions, ideas and actions sometimes stroll instead of run. Problems which arose years ago are thrown into the mix, which have little or no bearing on the real issue. Working in Africa can be very frustrating, irritating and trying at times.
Jacob (James) has a different take on things. He wants me to consider all my trials, hiccups and problems as JOY? What is wrong with this man’s head? Isn’t God concerned about my “rights” and slights? Doesn’t God care when I’m wronged, insulted or treated unfairly? Since when do I just roll over and just “be happy”?
Well, since we’re committed His Son, perhaps our point of view and take on the way the world works should be different! Maybe if we were more self-controlled and more concerned for the plight of ordinary people around us instead of insisting upon our wronged rights, the gospel would be more effective and welcome.
After all, if we are more joyful, doesn’t that effect those around us, too? The grace of God then becomes our joy and our joy becomes the joy of people who see Christ in us.
Unless, of course, you want to march through the streets with big bold placards because your rights have been infringed. Personally, I don’t see much joy in that.
A good Christian friend shared this simple poem with me in her daily struggle to walk with God:
Please give me sunshine in my heart to face each task with joy. Help me breathe when all else fails, show me the funny when humor falters in the face of irrationality.
My Father, hold my hand through every task no matter how small, let me see that attitude is more than knowledge and action more than planning.
Help me with the piles of work — show me which must take priority today, and remind me to get back to folks who think that two weeks is too long. Remind not to compare all but give of my best in all I endeavor to do.
Help me see the blessing in knowing You more and the abilities I take for granted, even in taking the Minutes of meetings I don’t like. Show me Your blessings in all of this.
Thank you, Father, that I have a job to go to. Thank you, Father, that I have money to work a budget. Thank you, Father, that I am blessed to have my own transport. Thank you, Father, for all I have taken for granted. Teach me to see the muchness in my cup. Teach me to compare my blessings only. Teach me to share what I have.
My good Father, teach me to re-align my attitude. Keep my mind on your Grace. Thank you for the warm clothes and full bellies.
Remind me to be grateful for the unseen things, electricity and clean water. When my bad attitude rises, shush me with your Greatness and Wisdom. Let Your Beauty shine through all that I do.
Help me see the wonderment of You, to love my work and appreciate the outcome of my labors. May I see Your Hand in all my work, Father, always striving to help me through today.
Just today, Father, never leave my side. Just today, Father, not yesterday or tomorrow, help me to help in Your Way. Amen and amen.
(Copyright 2007 Ann Norman)
There are often confused stares in my Cape Bible Seminary class when I ask, “What was Christ’s name before He was called Jesus?” There are a variety of tentative answers as mental smoke fills the room and people reach into the back of their heads for a clue.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1 (NIV)
In Greek, of course, the Word is “logos”. So Jesus was called logos or the Word before He was named the Christos or Messiah. John’s simple description of God in the opening verses of his gospel are stunning and simple. There isn’t any other place in Scripture where God is described in these words.
The Word has the power to change lives. The Word reveals God’s majesty and plan for man. The Word creates an environment of peace, joy and love. The Word brings knowledge and wisdom. The Word challenges and motivates us to works of excellence. The Word saves.
So, what does the Word mean to you today?