The gospel brings joy with it. Those who would have joy, must expect to go through hard work.
Do you ever think about the reasons why we aren't where we want to be in life--why we aren't getting what we want? We've gone through 3 quarters of the year--have you met the goals you set at the beginning of the year?
Did you want to be thinner? More successful? Were you prepared to find true love?
Did you fail? Do you think you're alone? You're not.
Often we become discouraged from the goal because we have neglected to realize the connection between toiling and joy. It is easier to eat a doughnut than prepare a healthy breakfast. Working extra hours is tiring. And at the end of the day, you feel too fat and tired to go out and find Price Charming...or Prince Good-Enough.
Preparation demands focus and time. Distractions are immediate and familiar. A portion of the hardship that arrives with preparedness is uncertain expectations: we know there is peace and joy and comfort in a calling or even something as simple as a completed task but at times, we're uncertain of the results. The terms of the journey may be unclear and the goal itself may be ambiguous.
You've worked so hard, often without recognition or an expression of gratitude. The odds are against you, yet you've been faithful and kept going. You don't know why your efforts aren't working. You're weary of the labor, the drudgery. You're guilty and ashamed of failure and loss.
"By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." --1 Corinthians 10:10-11
Today I drove a friend to a doctor's appointment out of town. On the way back home, she recalled working at nursing homes in the city. There are so many patients who don't have family to come visit. They can't speak or walk or understand what's going on around them. Yeah, it's depressing and sad.
There is joy in the toil. Often the hardest part of the toil is the waiting, the changing, and the hurting.
But God does the work.
So many Scriptures about joy are related to fruit and harvest. As you keep working towards your goals this last quarter be mindful that the harvest is a community effort, but so is growing the fruit.
We are a society of individualism. Whether your community is a church, a club, or another source, regroup this last quarter and find joy in the harvest.