written by Joe Zhu
When trials come, we run to the Lord. We seek refuge in His promises, we meditate on His word and remain constant in prayer. Passages like Psalm 62, Romans 8:28 or Lamentations 3:22-24 may come to mind to remind us of hope. Heaven becomes much more desirable as we long for God to wipe away our tears (Revelations 21:4). We remind ourselves of the purposes of trials (1 Peter 1:6-7, Romans 5:1-5) and the attitudes we should have during them (James 1:2). Eventually we press through because God is good and delivers us through the trial. Soon after, we reflect on God’s goodness in preserving us as He promises (Philippians 1:6) and rejoice in His kindness, goodness and faithfulness as we walk away refined.
But what about seasons of joy? When things are going well, do we still cling closely to Christ? Do we continue to find hope and peace in His word when the world doesn’t seem as hostile? When God delivers us blessings, gifts and encouragements, do we continue to long deeply for heaven? Is Christ our greatest treasure or does He become a treasure among many?
Strangely enough, I find that sometimes it isn’t the seasons of trials that test my faith the most, but the ones of prosperity. Life becomes comfortable and living life feels good. Joy is easily accessible through earthy things such as food, grades, careers, and relationships. We may not be doing as well as we like and would desire continual improvement, but overall life is going well.
The Joy of Joyful Seasons
Now do not get me wrong – it is NOT wrong to find joy in the gifts which God has given us. Scripture tells us of how there is a time and place for everything and how they are all made beautiful in their time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It tells us that work is good and necessary (1 Thessalonians 3:10) therefore finding a job is good. Pursuing excellence is a commandment (Colossians 3:23), and it’s not wrong to rejoice when you do well. Being with God’s people is sweet and we should enjoy fellowshipping with one another (Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:10). Marriage is a gift and relationships are meant to be enjoyed (Proverbs 5:18). Lastly, why shouldn’t we rejoice when we see others growing in the Lord or coming to Christ (1 John 1:3-4)?
The Dangers of Joyful Seasons
Than again, even joyful seasons come with their own sets of tests. Here are a couple questions that come to mind when thinking about seasons of prosperity.
- Where are my treasures?
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Although it is right for us to rejoice in the blessings God has given us, I think it would be appropriate to ask ourselves if we find our greatest joy in them or the Gospel? Are our treasures, the things most valuable to us found on earth or in heaven? And lastly, is our love for Christ or the world (1 John 2:15-17)?
- Am I complacent?
Hebrews 2:1 tells us, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Notice the word drift. It is very gentle, comes unnoticed and is a result of a lack of attention. During joyful seasons waves and the violate winds of trials are not as present. However, the subtle currents are always there and enough to bring us to a place where we never think we would be. It is a lot easier to pay attention during storms and cling to Christ. But once that storm is over, does our grip begin to slip? Do we think that it is ok to loosen our desperate clinging to Christ? Does our attention in fighting sin and pursuing holiness slip?
- Am I self–reliant or God–reliant?
When we are working hard and things are going well, it may seem as if we are the reason for our success. We quickly forget about God’s work in our lives and therefore forget to praise Him. Passages like Psalm 127:1 and 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 go to the back of our minds as God seems less relevant, but that does not mean He is irrelevant. When drowning, we understand our need for air and grasp every breath we can take. But when at rest, breathing goes on unnoticed. Just because we are unaware of our breathing does not make it any less of a necessity. In the same sense, whether or not we are aware of our need for God, He is no less of a necessity. We need the Lord whether we are in seasons of trials or pleasures.
Now, I don’t want to leave you with any sense of doubt or loss of direction. However, I do want to encourage you to continue to read the Word and pray, examine your own soul as 2 Corinthians 13:5 calls us all to do and lastly, meditate on God’s goodness in the Gospel. I know for sure that I fall short in so many areas of my life, but that is why the Gospel is so sweet. How amazing is it to know that God loves me, His enemy, so much that He would die for me (Romans 5:6-10), that despite my foolishness, He still shows mercy to me (Titus 3:3-5), and that despite the fact that I continue to sin after being saved, He continues to find joy in working in me (Philippians 2:12-13).