Proclaiming the Light When We Are Feeling Dim
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Amidst terrible persecution, the new Christians in Thessalonica desperately needed encouragement. They needed to be reminded that the true hope believers possess in Christ rests upon sure promises.
The Apostle Paul reminds them that joy is always possible in the present even when hope appears lost. A spirit of thanksgiving for every circumstance is always a plausible victory when our sense of purpose is muddled.
Simple instructions. Obvious answers. But a distracted heart yearns for more complex solutions. Our human nature seeks to be understood before we try and understand – to gain an audience to hear our hearts rather than apply wisdom to calm our hearts.
The challenges of living in a world darkened by sin haven’t changed. Amidst flashes of joy, our heart still yearns for immediate resolutions when God seems silent.
How can we be a light for Christ when we are feeling so dim?
How can we proclaim the Light when we feel like such a fraud?
The key that unlocks the secret of God pleasing responses is discovering where we remain.
The only way to be joyful always – pray continually – or to give thanks for every circumstance in life is to remain “in Christ Jesus.”
The answer is not to try harder to be holy or pretend to be something that you are not. It’s more about being absorbed by Christ’s presence through the power of his Word.
Sometimes God graciously allows storms and strife to enter a believer’s life so that they may receive joy at its purest, pray consistently with a trusting heart, and have a thankful spirit that is not predicated on circumstances.
And this is the complex irony of a life in Christ.
When life feels at its darkest, the Light of Christ shines the brightest.
One of the greatest demonstrations of love is the act of discipline. The Lord chastens, prunes, or “punishes” everyone he accepts as his child. (Hebrews 12:5) That may first appear harsh, but there is a purpose and a quality when God chastens disobedience. Every sin in our lives is a willful act of disobedience. No excuses. Any loving, doting father would want to correct those actions through discipline.
God never punishes those who are justified by faith alone. Instead, he allows difficult circumstances to appear as a means to draw us closer to him. A proper response from a believer is to embrace difficulty as an opportunity to deepen our trust in him.
By doing so – by remaining in him – the light of Christ shines brilliantly.
Being a light for Christ is not about feeling bright. Remaining “in Christ Jesus” means that the Light is on even when we feel like we have forgotten to turn on the switch.
The world carefully watches and observes whenever unnatural trust exhibits joy and confidence whenever God disciplines us.
For people struggling with hope – seeing hope in the light of the eyes who confess faith in Christ grants credibility and gains an audience.
Here are three reasons why believers can embrace difficult circumstances so they can be proclaimers of the Light:
Christ allows circumstances to draw us closer to Him.
Hope is a valued commodity in a COVID-19 world. God graciously produces hope in us so that we can give reasons for the hope that we have in him. Due to our human nature, God produces hope in us through suffering.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”Romans 5:3-5
Therefore, believers can embrace suffering as God’s way to produce hope within us and be truly thankful for what God is doing through this process (or discipline).
Christ allows circumstances to purify our faith.
Difficult life circumstances can either be like a giant furnace or a well-used rag. God created us to be his treasure. We were meant to shine. Christ lovingly polishes what is most valuable to him. That is us! Smudges of sin needs to be continually removed so that we can glisten with joy and thanksgiving. And sometimes a fire is required so that our lives can be refined for his purpose and glory.
“[Difficult circumstances] have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”1 Peter 1:7
Christ allows circumstances to help us confess our faith and hope to others.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”1 Peter 3:15
Unflinching hope rests solely in Christ. Pure joy comes from being anchored to a sturdy rock which is found only in Christ. When a storm arrives at our doorstep, we are often unaware of our witness because we feel like we are just holding on.
Yet, when those who trust in Christ’s promises feel weak, we are strong – not because of who we are, but because of who Christ is.
Proclaiming the Light when we are feeling dim is about remembering who we are and how Christ sees us. Confidence and a sense of validation to proclaim to others what Christ has already done for the world is rooted in being joyful always, praying continually, and being thankful in all circumstances God is allowing us to experience.
Just perhaps, what God is allowing us to experience is serving a greater purpose beyond ourselves. Perhaps God is uniquely preparing ourselves to be bold witnesses and preparing a platform to give reasons for the hope we have in Christ to others.
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