The secret in finding joy really is in living. We want to live but problems weigh heavily on us and in dealing with them — or not dealing with them, we manage just to survive. That is unfortunate.
One of the surest ways of resolving issues is to live it through. And, one of the surest ways of living despite the problems is also to go through it! There was a time in my life when the inner pain was so unbearable that it extinguished all joy. I thought death was better.
But, I guess, I am a survivor and dragged myself through the anguish. I took the full blast of the pain. I lived it out. But, as each day went by, I began to explore and discover myself and possibilities to diminish the pain. And, as I began to live out these possibilities, the pain got lesser and lesser. I got help, too, to get out of the pain. But, I kept on seeking other things that began to enrich my life until one day the pain disappeared altogether. And, the memory of it — never forgotten — blurred into the distant past as I immersed myself in the things I wanted to or had to do.
It was as I explored alternatives that I discovered John 10: 10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That gave me the impetus to try out options that I normally wouldn’t have but which I thought would add meaning to my life. Some such options worked, some didn’t, and I had to make adjustments but I enjoyed trying this and that and soon found fulfillment and joy in being who I am. Looking back, I can only say, I lived.
If I hadn’t persevered through the anguish, I wouldn’t have learnt all that I did and I wouldn’t be writing this!
Sometimes, I think, as Christians we don’t know how to live; we assume it, but, we truly aren’t living. Much of it, I believe, is because of the way we are taught. We are taught to live sacrificially (our reward is in heaven!), obey to be blessed (so we conform), pay the price of obedience (that’s the cost of discipleship!), give as much as we can — especially to churches — and don’t expect anything in return (again, our reward is in heaven!), persevere because God will help — and He does – but we still feel something is amiss and we can’t figure it out.
I suspect that we are doing all these things we are taught but we are not living. We haven’t learnt that we can do all the above and all the other things we want to do that add meaning to our lives. One doesn’t preempt the other. As Christians, the only thing we can’t do is sin — everything else in Christ is an endless list of possibilities! We just need to learn to trust Him, pray through what we want, act on them and make them happen. If they don’t happen, we try something else or another way.
The point is we are free to live the way we want to, except sin. Through faith in Him, we have that liberty, and we experience for ourselves how He helps. How He helps us is something you won’t find in the Bible; it is seen in the life lived. That differs from one person to another. But in all, He fulfills the promise that He gives life to the full.