This week we are pleased to introduce our new, regular guest writer, Pete Jobes.
Pete is first and foremost a disciple of Christ. He is based in Newcastle upon Tyne where he works as a user experience designer and serves at his local church. As a writer he has written two novels and blogs regularly at Sixty Stadia. He is passionate about God, cycling, and cake.
Do you ever find that there are some of the Christian characteristics and personality traits in the bible that are substantially more desirable than others? Most of us want to be loving and kind, but few people seem to request prayer that they’ll become more long suffering. Gentleness is a winner but patience can seem to be lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.
The focus of my church this year has been on Workplace Mission and it’s been amazing to hear stories of what God is doing in people’s workplaces and work lives. We’ve seen stories of supernatural favour, blessing and opportunity; people have been saved because they’ve seen so much Jesus in their colleagues they had to come to church and see.
And then? Then there is me. Or that’s how it sometimes feels. Because while seeing all of this I’ve been stuck in one of those seasons at work that feels more like a war of attrition than a parade of triumph. I’m sure the joy of the Lord is still within me but some days, when work is going badly, it seems to be hidden particularly deep.
In seasons like this it’s easy to become stressed and a little bit ashamed. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way, but I suspect that many of you have. Surely we’re supposed to be recognised by blessing and prosperity we leave behind us like a glittering trail of pixie dust, right? How can I bear the image of Jesus Christ to my world if my work circumstances are bad and seemingly getting worse and my only reaction seems to be to endure?
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
– Romans 5:3-5
Paul teaches us that our endurance brings glory because it shows the world that we have confident hope of salvation. We don’t demonstrate Jesus through the absence of trials and troubles in our life but rather through the way we endure them. It may not be the character trait you prayed for the most, but your endurance in this season is showing people Jesus.
Somewhere along the line we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of feeling that to show Jesus to our world we need to be living a life like Midas where everything we touch turns to gold. We’ll show the joy of the Lord then because we’re constantly being promoted, rolling in a Mercedes, shopping in designer boutiques and generally living a faux-celebrity lifestyle.
But being happy and joyful when everything is going great is pretty standard. Almost anyone could crack a smile if they just fell into money, got a new house, were promoted, etc., and it’s great when God does bless people in those ways. The thing is, however, there is a universal understanding of problems and troubles because everyone in your world is either having some or has had some. It’s in the way you deal with the issues of life that Christ can often shine through the most; it’s in your weakness that His strength is made perfect.
If you seem to be in a season where nothing is going right, remember that your endurance and refusal to give up is the stamp of Jesus on your life. Far from being a bad witness, the way you’re handling life may be just what your colleagues and friends need to see. Your endurance is developing and displaying character and hope and – while endurance may not feel all that great – character and hope look great on you.