Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
“The art of life consists in taking each event which befalls us with a contented mind, confident of good. This makes us grow younger as we grown older, for youth and joy come from the soul to the body more than from the body to the soul.” —James Freeman Clarke (cited by Mary Wilder Tileson in Joy & Strength)
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
A young couple in our church lost their baby, whereupon the husband wrote the following (excerpts):
From within the cloud of grief, it can be difficult to see how God feels about your suffering. Unfortunately, the temptation can be to imagine that he either doesn’t care or, even worse, is actually enjoying it.
A murmuring, grumbling, complaining spirit and true cheerfulness cannot simultaneously govern a heart. Which is governing will generally show in countenance and tone of voice. A mere look on the face or edge in the voice will betray it.
Forced cheerfulness does not spring up freely from a healthy heart. Genuine good cheer only rises from a heart truly at rest in God, satisfied with his promises and faithfulness to them.
God rest ye merry gentlemen and women, let nothing you dismay.
John Piper once told me that serving the Lord with fear and serving the Lord with gladness do not contradict each other, because on one hand there is real danger, but meanwhile we are not robbed of joy because the fear drives us to Christ, where there is all the safety we need.
Furthermore, the fear does not compete with the joy, but is part of the joy, because the fear awakens vigilance to daily flee to Jesus.
The only safe place from God’s terrible wrath is in God. This is not a game. He will be our highest treasure, or he will be our invincible enemy.
“Happiness is nothing but that inward sweet delight, which will arise from harmonious agreement between our wills and the will of God.”
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.—2 Corinthians 4:16–18