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Life lived ‘In Spite Of ...’

Life in this broken world always has to be lived ‘In Spite of’ something.
Happiness, joy, is always experienced ‘in spite of something’.

If it was true for Jesus – who for the joy set before him – endured the cross – then it will be true for us.

We build relationships ‘in spite of’ others faults and our own inherited flaws.

We work in ministries, or businesses and we volunteer, ‘in spite of’ limited time, resources or ability.

We chose to live and love and celebrate together, ‘in spite of’ what is bad and tragic in our world.

God’s word consistently reminds us that we are called to live life, in all its fullness ‘in spite of’ the struggles of life.

Psalm 23 says:

 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies …”Psalm 23

And Paul reminds us that our own lives are a strange mix of brokenness and power:

“We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Jesus seemed to walk this tightrope between sorrow and joy so well. He enjoyed friendship, celebration and joy to the extent that some criticised him for it (Matt 11:19). But he also never minimised or turned away from the reality of suffering.

It’s this ability to hold the tension between joy and sorrow that enables disciples of Jesus never to give in to despair or hopelessness.

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.”2 Corinthians 4 8-9

The challenge facing us these days is to live full lives ‘in spite of’ covid-19.

Let me encourage you to hold the tension like Jesus did.

We acknowledge the struggle – but we let our faith, hope and love motivate us never to give up- and we are the people who can sing, when others find they cannot.
We’re the people who rejoice in suffering – knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4)
We’re the people who consider our present suffering not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18)

We are more than conquerors, through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35-37)

Horatio Spafford, reflecting on this verse after the tragic loss of his four daughters on a transatlantic voyage, was able to write these words:

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
Horatio Spafford

It would be easy to give in to despair, but like Spafford, we must:

  • Remember the past, and all that God has won for us.
  • Acknowledge the present, remembering that God can work in the storms, “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Nahum 1:3)
  • Look to the future that God has in mind for us, and that one-day the storms will pass forever.

These are the truths that help God’s people live life in all its fullness, ‘in spite of’ the circumstances we find ourselves in.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

– Phil.

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