For over a year, I have had the privilege of studying the fruits of the Spirit. I admit that when I first began, I didn't think there was too much to learn. In my mind, I knew what love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control were and how they relate to God. How complicated could it possibly be to write a book about these things? Yet the more I have studied these character traits of God, the more I have realized just how naive I have been when it comes to the things of God.
I began studying the fruits of the Spirit in conjunction with a book I am currently writing. The idea is that for those living with a chronic illness, it's much harder to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit because often, we don't feel like God loves us. We don't feel like He's been faithful or good to us, so why should we be faithful and loving to Him?
These are questions often asked by believers who are suffering. They are questions which need to be answered because if we don't believe God cares about us, then it's incredibly difficult to have a good relationship with Him.
There have been many surprises for me along this journey, and one of the first came when I discovered the original Greek word for trials. The word is peirasmois and it comes from the Greek word peirates. Look familiar? If it doesn't, cross out the first e in the word peirates. See it now? It's where we get the word pirates.
I have to admit, I found this fascinating. Anyone dealing with a chronic illness knows that it has stolen a lot from them. Illnesses steal our health, our independence, our money, and our peace of mind. I've met some who have allowed their illness to steal their dreams, their families, and their happiness.
I think we can all agree that the word pirate is a pretty accurate description for a chronic illness, and for a person who doesn't have a personal relationship with Christ, there is little hope. But I've discovered verse after verse which says if we have a relationship with God, then we don't have to allow the pirate in our lives steal our treasure. Because of God, we can actually steal from the pirate. We can get joy and peace, despite having the presence of a pirate in our lives. We can know God's love, faithfulness, and goodness in a way we didn't know was possible. We can be so close in our relationship with God that the presence of a pirate no longer scares us. But it's our choice.
We determine if we allow our sickness to rob us blind. Every day we are alive, we have the choice to decide if we will become bitter, angry people or if we will live every day rejoicing because we serve an amazing God.
I don't know about you, but I want to be the one with the treasure at the end of the day. What about you?
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way...Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life." ~ James 1:2-4, 12 (The Message)
(c) May 2, 2012