I've found out I'm allergic to pain. Sometimes it causes swelling, irritation, loss of breath, aches, and a host of other problems. Pain hurts. And I don't like it.
But I can't avoid it. Usually. Life brings it--unexpectedly at most times. And yet, Jesus gave me something supernatural that not only gets me through the pain, but enables me to thrive in the midst of it. It's called JOY!
The disciple whom Jesus loved (John) wrote about this abundant joy. It's abundant because one more drop of it will cause it to overflow. And He gives it to us in abundance when we follow what John says in 1 John.
1:3-4 -- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
The aspect of fellowship seems to be the main theme throughout this book. And John doesn't waste any words describing the realness and depth of the kind of fellowship that Christ desires to have with us and desires us to have with one another.
He says in 2:3-4 that we "know" (meaning a deep, intimate, experiential knowledge) God if we obey His commandments. And the commandment he talks about next in chapter 2 is "loving one another!" Then he describes this love as all giving, sacrificial, toward those who don't deserve it, and taking the initiative. Now that's love. That's real fellowship with others.
AND, that's fellowship with God. It's fellowship with God because, according to John, if we are not loving one another this way, then we are not loving God.
So think about the painful experiences in your life. I have mine in mind. Our daughter, Kristina (9 years old), is currently battling a rare cancer. Scary. Heart-wrenching. Heavy.
HOWEVER (and I really mean HOWEVER), others have entered our lives, felt our pain with us, and helped carry this heavy burden. And we have sought to do the same with others.
The result? We continue to find a field of wealth inside our pain. During the days of sorrow and ultimate stress due to difficult news we receive...during the times of anguish and desperate desires to be out from underneath this heavy load...during the times when we feel hopelessness alongside our helplessness, He speaks. And He splits open the sky and showers us with His bountiful and abundant joy.
And then, in the mist of our tears, rays of light slice through the dark clouds. Truth is spoken despite our dark, lingering feelings: "I am your God. And I am here."
Suddenly, strength seeps into our pores. We find power that enables us to take another step. And at times we can run and dance. Other times, we gently walk. And with each step He walks alongside us. Often times, when we turn to see His face, we end up seeing the faces of those in our local church who are carrying this burden with us. The body of Christ.
That's fellowship. That's love. That's joy.
That's living above the common.
Are you pursuing this kind of obedience to our Father?