How to Have Joyful Faith
-written by an American Pastor
In my time working with Ananias House, I have read many testimonies of Americans’ service in Syria and Lebanon. Pretty much every person will say something like this, “Even in the midst of poverty and suffering, the believers there have an unbelievable joy in the Lord.”
What an amazing testimony!
I’ve heard many missionaries attest to the same joyful attitude among believers in other suffering nations.
At the same time, we constantly hear about the boredom, apathy, and depression Americans have in our material abundance.
What’s going on here?
The Apostle Paul clues us in on this phenomenon in 1 Timothy 6. The whole chapter is about money. Not sure if you know this or not, but no one ever has enough money!
How do you respond when you don’t have enough money? When you can’t get everything necessary for comfort?
Paul says you have two options:
1) Desire to get more money and buy more stuff.
2) Be content and let God take care of it.
Most Americans fall into category 1. Since getting more stuff is so easy here, we get busy putting plans into action to go get it.
In war-torn Syria and in refugee camps in Lebanon, there are few opportunities for obtaining material comfort. By default, living in accordance with category 2 is the only answer.
Category 2 says to be content and let God take care of providing what we need. The proper mentality is: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
“Contentment” means self-sufficiency. You have what is sufficient for life. He tells us that all we need for life is food and covering—clothes and a roof over our head (1 Timothy 6:8). We actually need very little to survive: food, clothing, and shelter about sums it up!
If you desire more than that, Paul says, you will end up loving money and desiring more stuff. Going after money and stuff will destroy you and ruin your faith (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
One of the big reasons why believers in impoverished, miserable circumstances often have more vibrant faith is because they actually need faith! They have so little to hold on to, they desperately cling to what they have in Christ.
To “lay hold on eternal life,” (1 Timothy 6:19) means to let go of the things in this temporal life. Holding on to material things will destroy peace, lead to stress and fighting, and will ultimately take you away from God and toward your own means.
Living in the midst of physical suffering is not fun. There is no glamour about it. But on the plus side, physical suffering develops faith. Faith leads to peace and joy.
We should learn a lesson from believers who have less than us. In many cases, they actually have more!
Let us pray together:
This month besides praying for believers & the violence and persecution that the churches in the Middle East and North Africa face, let’s pray for our own hearts:
Lord help us, to be content with what we have. Help us to remember that the busyness of the world around us need not be the busyness inside us. Help us to slow down and focus our minds on what is important to you, things like faith, contentment, peace and joy.