True worship is the combination of “spirit and truth” that Jesus was looking for. It is both an inner experience and an outer expression. So is the case of the woman who came into enemy territory to weep over Jesus’ feet, dry them with her hair, and kiss them in thanksgiving for bringing Jesus into her life. She had already experienced something within her soul, and it had to be expressed with such a series of worshipful actions.
In whatever ways we may already express worship to God for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, today I would like to consider how rejoicing in our trials should be included. The New Testament makes it clear that tribulation is not only possible, but it is expected. Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.” That is the norm for the Christian life.
When we surrender to the call of Scripture to consider it “all joy” when we go through all kinds of trials in Jesus’ name, we are declaring that Jesus is worthy of whatever suffering we experience because of him. Peter did not truly feel the value of Christ when he denied Jesus three times; but he did know the worth of Jesus’ name when he was beaten and threatened, and yet left the persecuting group “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
One of the difficulties in worshiping God in our suffering is when the suffering is inflicted by people close to us. These attacks often appear as a confirmation of a lifetime of let downs and rejections from people we cared about. Our minds quickly interpret sufferings from friends and family as personal.
However, when our trials are the result of seeking to be the light and salt Jesus made us to be, it doesn’t matter whether that suffering comes from near or far, it is still worship to Jesus to rejoice in such tribulations.
One of the common lessons in our experience of suffering from close-up people is that we discover that certain people seem to have greater worth to us than Jesus has. When a close friend or family member causes us suffering because we are living for Christ, our struggle to rejoice in this trial may be God’s way of exposing our poverty of spirit in this area of our lives. God may very well be working to show us that family and friends mean more to us than he does.
All these thoughts came out of the consideration of Revelation 1:9 where it speaks of “the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus”. There is “the tribulation” that is “in Jesus”. It is unavoidable. Jesus promised it would happen when he stated, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” If we cannot “take heart” and “consider it all joy” when it is family or friends causing the tribulation, it merely exposes that we have more to experience of the value of Jesus overcoming the world in us, and for us.
The big lesson for me today was the conviction that I must stop nursing wounds inflicted by people close to me, and sincerely obey Jesus’ command to rejoice in my troubles simply because he is worth it. Even just now as I think of this, it seems quite possible that rejoicing in these tribulations is the very thing that will heal the wounds inflicted by people who cause us trials far more up-close-and-personal than we wish would ever happen.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, ask yourself whether you are minimizing your “salt and light” to family and friends because you are more concerned about losing them than you are about honoring Christ. No matter how any of us come out of such an examination, let us delight ourselves in the Lord no matter who is offended by us doing so, and wait on him to give us the satisfaction of the deepest desires of our hearts. Then, along with worshiping him with our joy in tribulation, we will also be able to worship him with our joy in his blessings.
From my heart, Monte