In the darkness of constricting depression
I begged the Lord to give me joy even if it killed me,
and He promised me it most assuredly would,
for this is joy’s mantra:
“Death to self!”
It is simply not possible to know the deepest kind of joy
until we have experienced the anguish of death to self
with a cruel stake of affliction though our hearts.
For it is there on the altar of sacrifice
when we have finally surrendered what is most dear to us,
when we have willingly brought our costliest gifts
to lay humbly at the feet of the King,
that we are raised up to know firsthand His resurrection joy
through the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.
No one who has ever truly learned that
“to live is Christ and to die is gain”
has ever escaped this path.
Find me even one.
There is nothing quite like rejection to teach us about God’s love,
nothing quite like loss to teach us of His joy,
nothing like storms to teach peace,
nothing like ruined plans to teach patience,
nothing like loneliness to teach kindness,
nothing like failure to teach us of His goodness,
nothing like betrayal to teach faithfulness,
nothing like being completely misunderstood to teach gentleness
and nothing like humiliation to teach us self-control.
Why is this?
Because there is nothing like pain to chase us to Jesus
and to teach us to rely so helplessly on His Spirit’s filling.
And when we have His filling, we will know His fruit.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
~ Philippians 3:7-11
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
~ Galatians 5:22-25
“Then He said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.'“
~ Luke 9:23-24