“Today’s Seed” from E-MIN Jan. 6, 2023

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What makes you happy?

What brings you joy?

This looks like one happy ape! That “grin” could be a defensive posture, but it looks like a happy one to me. Let’s go with that anyway.

Happiness, a function of our emotions, depends on circumstances. Without realizing it, by their actions some people show that they think God exists to make them happy. (He does not.)

What actions? They pursue transitory happiness to the exclusion of everything else. All they pray about are circumstances and what they want. Most prayers begin with “God, please do…”, “Please make…”, “Please give me…”, or “Please don’t let…”

On the other hand, genuine joy has nothing to do with circumstances because you can have joy in the worst of times. Joy is a decision, a deep satisfaction, something that is transcendent of emotions and reason.

In today’s Scripture passage, Paul says, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” Delight is a strong word. The Greek word from which it is translated is even stronger. It implies something beyond simple happiness or transient pleasure.

This Greek word, ‘eudokeo’, means taking pleasure, being willing, and specifically approbating a person or thing. ‘Approbate’ means to formally or legally sanction, approve, or agree to something.

So, get this: Paul says that he formally and legally accepts and approves of weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties–and finds pleasure in them.

I am not at the ‘pleasure’ point yet, though I am understanding more. I understand that when difficulties come, I will be better for them. This does not mean that I want them. I just understand more now than I did before.

I now know that if they come, there will be something in them that I must learn. Otherwise, God would not have “approved”. I have learned that if God approves, I should approve, because whatever He approves is for my absolute best.

I suppose this qualifies as approbation. I pray “God, do whatever You need to do…”, which is formally and legally approving and giving Him permission. I’m not grinning from ear to ear like the ape in the image above, but I do understand that I can be joyful even as I struggle.

I hope you will see it this way as well. It is part of the discipline of which I spoke a few days ago. We MUST develop it. We MUST get there. It is vital to our survival–especially in these times. Is it easy? No. Necessary? Yes! Beneficial? Beyond our wildest imagination–literally.

God’s grace truly is sufficient to compensate for our shortcomings and His power is shown complete in our weaknesses and inabilities. How does this work?

When God says, “…my power is made perfect in weakness.”, the word translated as ‘perfect’ is teleioo, which means “to complete, consecrate, finish, and fulfill”. In this God says, “I complete what you are unable to complete. I do it in you and through you because you are unable.”

Think on this; let it sink in. He completes what we are unable because of His incredible love. This is HOW difficulties, weaknesses, and challenges make us stronger and bring us closer to Him.

Paul closes today’s passage with a contradictory statement: When I am weak, then I am strong. As you begin to comprehend this, so will come the understanding of how difficulties can be a source of great joy. It is not about how they feel; it is about what they do.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10 NIV)

Prayer: LORD, help me discover the joy in hardships and difficulties—the joy of what You will do in me through them. Enable me to see the good in the bad and the benefit in the hardship. It is difficult to smile while in pain… but You can help me do it. Then, my weakness and regret will be overshadowed by Your strength and joy as You complete in me what I am unable to complete. Thank You for expressing Your strength through my weakness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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“Today’s Seed” from E-MIN Jan. 6, 2023