Joy in All Circumstances

BY JIM KIRCHNER, CAMPUS PASTOR

God does not close a door without opening others.

As a young man I wanted desperately to be a professional athlete but as you may know by now – it didn’t happen. In a different way, the apostle Paul also experienced thwarted plans. As the world’s foremost missionary in his time, he was still prevented from going into one country through a vision from God. Instead, God led Paul in an entirely different direction. God still cared about the souls of the first country and the good news of the Gospel would get there in His perfect timing (Acts 16:6-10).

Perhaps your plans have been changed recently for various reasons, including the COVID-19 virus. When God closes one door He always opens another one up. In that regard, let’s look at some responses of faith that we can practice through this time.

First, read James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

In this passage, James recognizes that sometimes God uses a closed door to mature our faith. He also points us toward the distinct difference between joy and happiness? Valor Student Ella Gentry recently gave a beautiful message at chapel about the difference before the two. She reminded us all that joy is possible regardless of circumstances!

Second, take a no for a better yes! Time, our most precious commodity, can be used in many different ways when a door is shut. Maybe God is giving us respite, renewal time, peace, and joy to just enjoy His presence. And while we’re at it, time with family and friends that is not rushed, but savored instead. Yes, when we have a change like this, let’s not be quick to fill it up, but revel in this gift of time that we did not expect.

Third, history often gives us perspective. I mentioned that as a young man I wanted to play professional sports. Football and basketball were my favorites, and I worked hard at it, but realized the only possibility was going to be as a punter – all other options were ruled out for the usual reasons of size, strength, speed, jumping ability, etc. This is hard to admit, but I count it all joy. As hard as I worked at it, the many prayers I made, the vow I took that I would give half of what I made in the Pro’s, did not change the fact that God simply had another plan and other doors that He would open. 

As I look back from this perspective of history, I can rejoice. Would it have ever come about that I would meet my wife, have had a large family, or have the privilege of being Campus Pastor at Valor if I had gotten my own way? My guess is no, not because God couldn’t have done it, but God because closed that door and wrote my story this way. I look back now and would not trade a thing. 

Lastly, take a closed door and watch what God can do in His amazing plan and love for us. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20. I pray that regardless of closed doors or changed plans, you find joy and peace in the Lord to have a restful break.

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