December 22

Trials and Pain: Heartache or Happiness

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
--James 1:2-4

From the trials and triumphs of Paul, we gather, too, that happiness is really not indispensable to a Christian. There are many ills worse than heartaches. It is scarcely too much to say that prolonged happiness may actually weaken us, especially if we insist upon being happy as the Jews insisted upon flesh in the wilderness. In so doing, we may try to avoid those spiritual responsibilities which would in the nature of them bring a certain measure of heaviness and affliction to the soul.

The best thing is neither to seek nor seek to avoid troubles but to follow Christ and take the bitter with the sweet as it may come. Whether we are happy or unhappy at any given time is not important. That we be in the will of God is all that matters. We may safely leave with Him the incident of heartache or happiness.
He will know how much we need of either or both.
We Travel an Appointed Way, p. 80

"Lord, may I indeed be 'in the will of God' today. I'll 'leave with [You] the incident of heartache or happiness.' I can trust You to decide wisely. Amen."
A. W. Tozer

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December 23

Trials and Pain: Happiness is Not the Goal

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this
life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

--2 Timothy 2:3-4

That we are born to be happy is scarcely questioned by anyone. No
one bothers to prove that fallen men have any moral right to
happiness, or that they are in the long run any better off happy.
The only question before the house is how to get the most happiness
out of life. Almost all popular books and plays assume that personal
happiness is the legitimate end of the dramatic human struggle.

Now I submit that the whole hectic scramble after happiness is an
evil as certainly as is the scramble after money or fame or
success....

How far wrong all this is will be discovered easily by the simple
act of reading the New Testament through once with meditation. There
the emphasis is not upon happiness but upon holiness. God is more
concerned with the state of people's hearts than with the state of
their feelings. Undoubtedly the will of God brings final happiness
to those who obey, but the most important matter is not how happy we
are but how holy. The soldier does not seek to be happy in the field;
he seeks rather to get the fighting over with, to win the war and get
back home to his loved ones. There he may enjoy himself to the full;
but while the war is on his most pressing job is to be a good
soldier, to acquit himself like a man, regardless of how he feels.
Of God and Men, pp. 48-49

"Oh Lord, redirect my focus. Help me today to be a 'good soldier of
Jesus Christ.' Amen."

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