Encouragement for Today

Principle 7

“Consider it Pure Joy”

Amanda Waldroop, Staff Writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

Key Verse:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

“Consider it pure joy”…”Consider it pure joy”…”CONSIDER IT PURE JOY?  I hate this job!

 

So went my thoughts as I ran another twelve-pack of beer cans across the scanner at my check out.  It was the summer after my junior year of college, and I chose to spend it “suffering” for Christ in the small beach town of Cherry Grove, South Carolina with Campus Crusade for Christ. 

 

I knew the summer held a lot of potential for sharing the Gospel and building significant relationships with other college students and co-workers.  What I didn’t know ahead of time was the job I would have – grocery store clerk.  While some of you may have held this position and enjoyed it at one point, I must say, it was by far the WORST job I have ever had. 

 

With high hopes for evangelizing my workplace, I made it my goal to greet each customer with a smile and inquire about their day with the intention of delving into more thought-provoking conversation during their brief time at my register.  I also had a plan to meet with and share the Gospel with all of my cashiering co-workers.  What naiveté is born out of real-world ignorance!

 

Upon my first day of work, my Nazi customer service supervisor greeted me with a delightful reprimand at my inability to stand in one place for more than six hours at a time.  All went downhill from there.

 

My resolution to greet each customer with a friendly smile sunk as I spent a good three-fourths of my day busting underage teenagers for trying to buy alcohol.  Instead of “thank you” and “have a nice day” most of these interactions were followed by customer obscenities.  And then there was the developing tendonitis in my right shoulder from scanning twelve-packs of beer purchased by local fishermen.  Not to mention the “beep…beep…beep” I heard in my sleep each night after scanning groceries all day, every day.  Even more depressing was getting stood up on three out of four of my attempts at building relationships with co-workers after-hours.  The list could go on, but I’ll stop here for now.

 

From the looks of things, work was starting to make me feel pretty discouraged and purposeless.  Why did I even bother to do this mission trip? I couldn’t even display the love of Christ in my countenance because I was so miserable.

 

However, our project director chose to go through the book of James with us that summer.  I will never forget the first night of our study and that first verse in James 1: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” 

 

Though my complaining about a cashiering job seems ridiculous in the great scheme of things, my spirit was truly crushed at the numerous unsuccessful attempts I was having at winning the lost to Christ. God used James 1:1 to comfort me as it reminded me of Paul and his numerous hardships along the journey to complete the same mission I so desperately desired to complete myself.  Shipwrecks, beatings, continual death threats, prisons.   He experienced them all, all for the sake of sharing the Gospel.  And he didn’t give up.  James was a smart chap when he wrote to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  He knew that the Christian life – the life that seeks to share Jesus with everyone it meets – would face hardships if it was in any way effective.  He was wise in reminding believers then to expect trials, and I am so thankful he left a letter behind to remind me as well.

 

Though many days I recited the verse through clinched teeth, I resolved to claim it when I felt Satan trying to defeat me in my mission to simply be the servant I knew God wanted me to be in my workplace.  It was a matter of perseverance under trial.  Would continual mishaps reveal an inward character with a give-up-get-out attitude?  Or would claiming God’s promises prevail, regardless of whether or not things got better?

 

I would like to say that my situation did get better over the summer, but it didn’t.  The tendonitis in my shoulder continued to irritate me.  Co-workers continued to stand me up at after-hours gatherings.  I can’t even say I stopped having what I call “cashier handicaps” because I certainly did.  But I can say that my attitude changed when I started obeying God’s command to count my struggles in the workplace a joy.  With a changed attitude in tow I naturally became more joyful.   Customers and co-workers alike were finally able to see Jesus in me.  Even my Nazi customer service lady started joking around with me my last month there.  

 

My Prayer for Today:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the command given in the Great Commission to share the story of salvation found in Jesus Christ with everyone everywhere.  Help me to be faithful to do just that.  I ask for the joy, peace, and encouragement that only You can give when my mission seems fruitless and unfulfilling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

When you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with a seemingly fruitless attempt at sharing Jesus Christ with others, it may be time for you to take a deep breath and REST in the Lord and His sovereignty.

 

R – Relax and know that you cannot force someone to believe what you believe.

E – Examine the situation and remember that Satan loves to use whatever he        can to make you give up on the mission God has set before you.

S – Sigh or take a deep breath.

T – Trust in God’s ability to work through the situation as you remain faithful to     your mission. 

 

Reflection Points:

 

  1. When have you experienced some sort of suffering for Jesus?
  2. What was your reaction to the struggle?
  3. Did you have a give-up-and-get-out attitude?  Or did you remain strong and persevere?
  4. What is the most frequent joy-stealer you deal with?
  5. What usually has to happen before your joy is returned and your attitude is set back on track?

 

Power Verses:

John 15:10-11, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (NIV)

 

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5, “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.  You know quite well that we were destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.  And it turned out that way, as you well know.  For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith.  I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.” (NIV)

 

1 Corinthians 9:16-17, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_whatHappens.htm

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_radicallyObedient.htm

5 Fun Summer Activities for Families, ETC Corner article

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/etcJun05.htm