[forthright] Contradictory Feelings

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 5 Mar 2011 05:39:16 -0800 (PST)
Forthright Magazine 
Straight to the Cross

When troubles come, no one knows better than Job. 'In
Search of Perfection: Studies from Job,' by Michael E.
Brooks. Click here:


Contradictory Feelings
 by Michael E. Brooks

"I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my
conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my
heart" (Romans 9:1-2 NKJV).

"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last
your care for me has flourished again; though you
surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I
speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever
state I am, to be content" (Philippians 4:10-11).

As we prepare to depart the U.S. once again for an
extended stay in South Asia I find myself to be very
much of two minds. On the one hand I am eager to return
to a fruitful and productive field where many are
anxious to hear the message of Jesus Christ. I know
that I will see close friends and brothers and sisters
in Christ. I will once again go to beautiful places and
have enormously enjoyable experiences in travel and

At the same time it is with a measure of reluctance
that I prepare to leave my home here in the U.S. There
are family, friends and fellow Christians whom I will
miss greatly. Spring is about to break out everywhere
with great beauty and pleasurable weather. Work here is
just as rewarding and enjoyable as what I will do
overseas. As much as I want to go, I also find myself
thinking how wonderful it would be to stay here a
little longer.

As one reads the Scriptures he finds many examples of
such contradictory thinking. Paul himself admited that
he did not know how to pray with regard to his
imprisonment and upcoming trial. "For to me, to live is
Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the
flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I
shall choose I cannot tell" (Philippians 1:21-22).

In Romans the Apostle described himself as filled with
great sorrow because of the lost condition of the
majority of his countrymen, the nation of Israel. Yet
in Philippians he affirms that he is content whatever
his circumstance, and even rejoices greatly.

It is obvious that the human spirit is capable of
feeling both joy and sorrow simultaneously. I believe
many of us have forgotten or are unaware of that fact.
We believe that if there is any cause for sorrow we
cannot possibly be happy. Conversely, if we as
Christians are commanded to "Rejoice always"
(Philippians 4:4), then it is sinful, or at least
inappropriate, for us to ever feel sadness. Such
misunderstandings may create confusion, doubt, and even

How many grieving persons feel that life will never be
worth living again after the death of a beloved spouse
or child? How many sinners feel they can never be
forgiven because of some terrible mistake? In each case
great sorrow is believed to eliminate any possibility
of future joy. This is tragic and completely

Paul's sorrow at the lost condition of many of his
friends and fellow Jews was real. But so was his
overall condition of contentment. His confusion as to
which was better -- death or life -- was also genuine.
But he had no trouble acting with decisive faith and
conviction at all times.

How do we manage such conflicts? Paul managed his by a
disciplined will which determined to see good in
everything; by strong and unwavering trust in God; and
by living for Christ and for others, rather than simply
for himself. If we will follow his example we too can
overcome those occasional conflicts.

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