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Learning To Be Glad When God Is Glad

Learning to be Glad When God is Glad 

by Gary Henry


“. . . as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

There will be times when an event is both a gain for God’s Kingdom and a loss for us personally, at least in the short run. Progress never comes except at a price, and it must occasionally be true that we have to bear a part of the price personally. At such times, we should be glad that the event represents a gain for God’s cause and His kingdom, in the larger perspective.

John the Baptist is a study in the attitude that we need to have. As Jesus’ forerunner, John’s role was only temporary. Once Jesus appeared, the progress of the kingdom would require John to leave the stage, so to speak. To his credit, John had the right attitude: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). If the kingdom was going forward, God would be glad, and so John would be glad too, no matter what the private implications were.

Our highest joy should always come from God’s purposes and their fulfillment. We should define as “good” anything that forwards the Lord’s cause, without regard to any gain or loss of a private nature. Yes, we will have our preferences, as Paul must have had when he wondered whether he would continue to live or be put to death. But deep down, Paul only wanted that “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” If a gain for God’s kingdom required a loss for Paul, he was only too glad to accept the loss. On a much higher plane than Nathan Hale ever knew, Paul would regret that he had but one life to give.

Having this attitude does not mean that we don’t grieve what we’re called upon to give up. Jesus willingly — we could even say gladly — gave up His life to make possible some things that would bring His Father joy, but if you think His loss did not bring Him grief, you have never read the account of Gethsemane. A willing sacrifice and a broken heart very often go together, and if you haven’t learned that lesson yet, you probably will before you die.

It all comes down to looking at things from the larger perspective. Things that make us sad in the “small picture” are very often those that, in the “big picture,” should make us the gladdest of all.