Romans 5:1-5 ESV
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
It’s a gross understatement to say that God really really knew what He was doing when He created the human brain!
As medical experts and others study the human brain they are finding specific emotions elicit a chemical response that produce a continuous response.
When we are joyful, our brain produces a chemical that produces more joy (https://www.healthline.com/health/affects-of-joy).
That’s a given.
But, according to Romans 5:1-5 we are told, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Not only do we rejoice because of the gift of free grace through Jesus, we are told to rejoice in our sufferings.
That’s a whole different deal!
How do we rejoice in our sufferings?
When I first read and studied that scripture I was 20 something. I thought it was a totally crazy idea, so I did what I always did back then…I went to see my dad.
Looking back, I now know that a better response would have been to pray about it and listen to the Spirit. But then, I wanted it to be easier. I liked instant.
It’s a good think God (and my dad) were patient with me. When I would take hard questions to my dad he would say, “Hummm…that’s a great question. Did you ask God for an answer?”
I’d reply, “Uh, no. I’m asking you.”
Then he’d say something like, “You might want to ask God.”
So I’d complain to myself and half-heartedly ask God for the answer and I’d tell my dad I didn’t get anything. You get the idea. Eventually my dad would give me clues, talk with me about creating a quiet atmosphere where I could actually HEAR God.
It took time because I was being obstinate about it, but eventually I wanted to hear God, (really hear God) so I started intentionally creating an atmosphere of silence so I could hear God.
I know now (45-50 years later) that through my suffering of not being able to hear God, a desire was growing IN me to hear God. It came to a point where I really really wanted to hear God. The more I wanted to hear God, I sought silence.
Then, in the silence I started to hear God.
I was so filled with joy that I started to hear God!
Oh, funny how that worked. My desire to hear God (which by the way came from God) produced a stronger desire (suffering) to hear God and continuing the practice of silence produced endurance. My growing ability to hear God when I was silent for a few minutes strengthened my character. When my brief minutes of silence produced a good result, I grew to hope that with Practice I could hear God (Romans 5:1-5).
As I continued to practice listening by being silent, I could feel God’s love for me. My UN joy became Joy and eventually became Rejoice Always.
Through the years, God has been good to “grow” me. It helped that during my ten year journey sitting with my Spiritual Director, he was good to remind me of the benefits of sitting quietly with God.
Sitting in silence eventually became my quest for sanity in an insane world.
There were times when I felt guilty, and others tried to make me feel guilty for taking time away from the ‘doing’ part of life. Thankfully, my kids understood that I needed time with God. It became my ‘me’ time and it made me a better mom.
Ultimately I came to understand that God wanted me to take time to build our relationship (me and God). I learned that I turn to God because it’s what God wants. God loves us and wants to spent time with us. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
One final note…practicing silence and listening to God is an all important step for me when I write. I don’t believe I’d be able to write about God without listening TO God.
God really does come through!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Give God a Minute
Practice sitting in silence with God. If you’re new to the Practice, start with one or two minutes, then gradually add time. As you sit in silence focus on God and listen.
In God, Deborah