Don Whitney has several suggested questions to ask ourselves as we consider the new year and a new start. I thought I’d go through and answer at least some of them.
Question #1: What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
My enjoyment of God. My enjoyment of God? I’m not sure where or how it happened, but in the past few years I’ve lost a lot of the Joy I used to have. A radio host I listened to several years ago signed off with the catchphrase: “Don’t let anyone steal your joy!”
Unfortunately, I’ve not heeded his words. I’ve let the world, the flesh, and the devil come in and steal my joy, tempting me to despair at times. I looked at this list of fourteen things that can steal your joy from John MacArthur, and I believe my chief joy-stealers are “prayerlessness” and “not understanding God’s sovereignty.” I don’t pray enough. I don’t know how to pray sometimes. I have a particular situation in my family that I want God to fix, and I’ve asked Him to do it, but nothing has happened. And I don’t know where to go from here.
You see, there’s a particular person in my life who has made some decisions that I consider to very destructive and displeasing to God. I want God to to change that person. Do I keep praying to that end? After all, God knows what I want. I know what I want. What good does it do to keep repeating myself? Do I pray about other things and ignore the elephant in the room? All this confusion hinders my prayer life and makes me unsure of what I believe about the sovereignty of God. And that steals my joy.
As for one thing I can do to “increase my enjoyment of God,” I think I need to take a step back and remember my first love. Remember that He first loved me and that I need to trust that He also loves those I hold dear. However, “his ways are not our ways,” and I hope to recover my joy by patiently trusting in His sovereign will even when I don’t understand what He is doing (or not doing). I can learn to pray again. And maybe the discipline of prayer will bring me back into a joyful communion that I’ve been missing for a while.
To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”