Some in God's Church simply intend to "tough it out" until Christ returns. Literally, they are "ENDURING to the end" (Matt. 24:13) — but not the way Christ intended. Are you making their mistake?
THINK BACK to the time just before your first contact with the message proclaimed by God's Church. Your life had probably become somewhat frustrating and purposeless. You had problems and worries. You saw inequities and wrongs all around you. Perhaps you wondered, "What is it all about?" Something was missing! And then came the thrill and challenge of God's truth. You saw in it the answers to many gnawing doubts, the solutions to problems — real, positive, workable principles that could make your life fuller, happier and more abundant. You seized God's way with zest and put those principles into action — at the cost of your hobbies, perhaps of your job, your friends, even your family. But it was well worth the sacrifice because your life now had meaning and direction — and you had the promise of eternal life! You abounded with the zeal that God calls the "first love" for His truth.
Routine of Christian Living
As the days, weeks and months rolled by, however, you discovered that you were still you, that life still had its frustrations, disappointments and heartaches. Even as a converted and changed Christian, you continued to have trials and tests, some of which were burdensome and wearing. And so your "first love" began to fade, your original childlike excitement now tempered with the mature realization that God's way is not a magical, mystical solution to all ills — that it requires hard work on your part. Are you now therefore one of those who are simply "waiting it out" — tolerating your problems and shortcomings — hoping that somehow when Christ appears in the clouds your whole mental attitude will be instantly changed? Are you looking for God's Kingdom to bring you "instant happiness"? Brethren, don't be deceived. God is not going to end all our problems, trials and tests for us while we are rising to meet Christ in the air — we must be working on and conquering them now, by our own hard effort magnified and made effective through God's spiritual help! God promises eternal spirit life and rulership in His Kingdom only to those who in this life develop righteous spiritual character — who practice love, joy, peace, happiness and overcome and solve their problems now.'
God's People Should Be Happy
Jesus explained to His disciples that one who is faithful in little will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10). If we learn here and now to lead full, happy, purposeful physical lives, to master and overcome our afflictions, God knows we can be happy for all eternity in His Kingdom. In John 10:10 Christ told the Pharisees: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." God intended our physical life to be an abundant one — not necessarily full of wealth and earthly possessions, but full of love, joy, peace and happiness. "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." are among the fruits of God's Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Notice that love, joy and peace head the list. These are the spiritual works by which God is judging us. Can we really evidence love, joy, and peace if we are just "waiting it out"? Obviously not. Putting up with our shortcomings and allowing circumstances subject to our control to toss us about — hoping that Christ will return before our endurance runs out — is not the way to peace and happiness! When Christ returns He wants to find His servants "so doing" (Matt. 24:46) — actively and aggressively making changes in themselves; actually solving problems — not simply "marking time" and putting up with their lacks — not relying on someone else to push them into overcoming. He wants to find in us ever-increasing joy and the sense of purpose that comes only with spiritual growth. Take a test. Can you say that since you were put into God's Church you have been very blessed — and that you are being spiritually blessed more all the time? If not, something is amiss. If you don't feel very blessed and happy — and increasingly so as time passes, you may be "missing the boat."
Trials, Yes! Unhappiness, No!
Certainly God did promise trials and tribulation for true Christians_ Anyone who will. live godly is in for some rough times. But even in the face of trials, a Christian should not become unhappy and frustrated. James commanded, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" James 1:2-3). No crisis or dilemma seems• cause for us to shout for joy — at least not in the immediate physical sense. But we are commanded by our Creator to rejoice in the long range good that a trial can produce. We can have the vision and foresight to know that God is absolutely in control, allowing a problem only for our ultimate spiritual good. Trials can be traumatic; but they need not destroy the overall contentment and joy we have in knowing we are now learning how to live so we can reign for all eternity with Christ. Nothing must be allowed to blur our vision of our goal. Then, nothing can destroy our happiness! Christ exhorted His disciples: "... rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you" — or because of any supernatural abilities we might be given — "... but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). That is our cause for great rejoicing, regardless of our physical circumstances.
Be Deeply Converted
Although the temporary physical blessings of this life can add to our happiness, we must never let the lack or desire for them destroy or ruin our rejoicing. No attempt to base our life and happiness on physical things which an so easily be taken from us can ever succeed. But to be able to get our minds off the physical things of this world, we must be deeply converted — we must strive to rid ourselves of the habits, aspirations and vanity of our carnal lives. We must understand and despise the carnality we see in our own minds. We must be willing to accept correction and admit our weaknesses and faults. We should pray for God to show us our errors and shortcomings, to correct us in His mercy; and we should also ask God's ministers to help us see where we need to change. Admitting error, accepting correction, then striving to overcome, must become a daily challenge for us — knowing that we are qualifying for an eternal goal which is the foundation of our happiness. With this spiritual goal in mind, we can greatly appreciate any physical blessings God has granted us and use them to the fullest. Sin and unhappiness come from misuse or abuse — but happiness, peace and joy come from the proper appreciation and use of all that God has created. Enjoy the taste of delicious food; be inspired by beautiful music; be thrilled by the fellowship of other members of God's family; appreciate the glory of God's creation. In proper balance drink in of all of God's physical creation, but always seek His Kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).
Solve Your Problems
As true Christians, we must actually solve the problems of this life. Never think or say, "I can't do things any different. That is the way I am," or, "I can't help it if conditions are that way" — and slip into a do-nothing attitude. Too many of us are satisfied with second place — with less than a fulfilling marriage, with less than obedient children. We bounce from job to job without direction. We allow circumstances to shape our lives. We slip by from paycheck to paycheck just keeping our financial noses above water. We allow our own physical bodies to remain too fat, or enervated, or in pain, when it lies within our power to correct the situation — if we only would exert the effort to do so. Are you developing and using your mind, broadening your mental horizons, learning in, fields you have previously ignored or had no opportunity? Then again, perhaps you are already too broad in your interests and need to narrow them down and begin to specialize in certain fields. Granted, there are limitations to what we can alter in this life — but are we really changing to the utmost? It's true that change is often arduous, embarrassing and traumatic, but are we really measuring it as we should in comparison to the jubilation beyond? Are you solving and overcoming problems — putting them into the past? Or engaged in a simple endurance contest?
Accentuate the Positive
A basic human tendency is to see the negative side of things. It doesn't matter who you are, you can always find something to be discouraged about if you want to. There is always trouble in the world, in the nation, in every community. There are aches and pains, discouragement and disappointment in our personal lives. But one thing is sure: worrying about these problems, brooding about them, being unhappy about them, won't make them go away. So what should we do? We must learn to thrust our problems into the hands of God through prayer and meditate about the positive aspects of our life and His way. We of all people do know who we are — we know where we're going. We have the absolute promise that "... all things work together for good to them that love God..." (Rom. 8:28). Before us lies the greatest goal that a human being could imagine — the promised goal of being in God's family for all eternity. Brethren, let's accentuate the positive! Let's recapture the original zest and happiness we experienced when we first began to walk in God's way of life. Remember, this physical existence is the training and testing ground for an eternal spiritual life in God's glorious family. Eternal happiness is available only to those who learn true happiness here and now!