Do you love the Word of God? I hope you do. I've been reading God's Word on a regular basis for most of my life, seriously digging into the Word starting around age 15. That's a long time. (It's been over 10 years now.) The more time goes on and the more familiar I become with it, the more I appreciate the Word of God.
One of the things that I love about God and His Word is that He is not, therefore His Word is not, one dimensional. God's Word deals with many different topics and will deal with our hearts and lives on several different levels.
A few years ago I read this verse, and I began to discover how amazing it is. In 2 Corinthians 8:2 (NIV) Paul is bragging about the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
Wow! What a statement. I think usually we don't consider those terms going together. It doesn't just say trial and joy, but severe trial and overflowing joy. Not just poverty and generosity, but extreme poverty and rich generosity.
I don't know about you, but when I think of trials, I don't usually think about joy. I usually don't envision generosity going together with poverty. Why is that?
In our humanity, we have a limited perspective. We tend to think that it's impossible to have joy in the middle of the trial and, if we're impoverished, we can't be generous. But God is the God of the impossible, and He calls us to do the impossible with Him.
The only way we can do the impossible is with Him, never without Him. To be joyful in trials and to be generous in poverty can sound like contradictions. But if, by the grace of God, the Macedonian church did it, so can we.
Our tendency is to think that we can have joy WHEN the trial is over. We tend to think, "I sure would like to be more giving, I don't want to be stingy, but right now money is tight so I don't have a choice. But WHEN I have more money, then I can afford to be generous."
Sounds logical doesn't it? Yes, it is. It's earth-bound logic based on mere human reasoning. It does not take into consideration the fact that we have a really, big powerful loving Father, who is with us right now, in the middle of our circumstances, empowering us to do the impossible.
You might say, "That sounds really nice, but come on, I'm only human." Remember that in 1 Corinthians 3:3, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for "acting like mere men." Why would Paul do that? Doesn't he know we're human?
Yes, we are human, but we are not JUST human. The God of the impossible, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, now lives within us. He empowers us to be joyful even in trials and generous even in poverty.
It's easier said than done, but true nonetheless. It's possible by the grace of God.