Surviving or Thriving?

We’ve all had times in our lives when we feel we’re hanging on by our emotional fingernails. We do the necessary minimum to keep ourselves and our families alive. We meet deadlines and keep engagements, but we don’t enjoy life. We’re in survival mode.

We feel overwhelmed and pray with Moses:

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
   and for as many years as we have seen evil (Psalm 90:15, ESV).

Christians who truly believe God’s promises in the Bible know that he doesn’t intend for us to live in survival mode. The God of joy and beauty desires us to enjoy his good gifts. He wants us to do more than survive; he wants us to thrive.

Romans 14:17 reminds us that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (ESV). We are to do more than simply stumble through life, earning our daily bread. By the grace of God through the equipping of the Holy Spirit, we can have peace and joy.

Joy is one of the famous fruits of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV).

The Holy Spirit isn’t the only person of the Godhead who grants joy. Jesus lived and walked on this earth as a human being. Through his personal experience, the second person of the Godhead knows how discouragement saps the soul. He knows how struggle strangles the spirit. He knows the anguish of rejection, humiliation, and pain. He knows the feeling of barely surviving. But he had joy in his God. Before Christ returned to his father, he prayed for his people to share his joy:

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13, ESV).

The call to joy appears throughout Scripture. The psalms especially resound with calls to do more than survive, but to thrive. Psalm 32:11 (ESV) commands us: “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

And the prayer of Psalm 16:11 (ESV) says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

While it’s true that we will experience eternal pleasure after our death, this psalm clearly shows that living in God’s presence brings “fullness of joy” even in this sorrow filled existence.

That prayer of Moses about being glad for days of affliction and years of evil comes immediately after this hopeful verse:

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
   that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14).

May you be satisfied this morning with God’s unfailing love! May it enable you to rejoice and be glad all your days! And may you not merely survive, but thrive!


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