Without Tsouris we wouldn’t know joy

As lousy a situation as it is, the absence of tsouris (troubles) in our lives results in the absence of joy.

Joy is what we feel when we are relieved of stress, there are no problems, no “issues” to overcome…complete relaxation, physical, mental and spiritual.

But if we didn’t know about stress, if we never had “issues” to worry about and overcome, and if we never were sad, downtrodden, upset or stressed-out, then how would we be able to feel joy? It wouldn’t be anything other than the same old, same old. And even joy can be boring and useless if that’s all there is.

When a woman gives birth, the pains are remarkable (so I’ve heard- not being able to tell you from experience, of course) and the total joy after, when the baby has come out, is just as overwhelming. Not just because of the birth of your child, but because there is no more pain. The cessation of pain is, in and of itself, a joyful feeling.

We go through the fire to remove the slag, and we must be melted down to our basic elements for that to happen. We must be destroyed, so that we can congeal into a more pure form of ourselves. This is what Tsouris is all about- getting rid of the dross so that the purity can be realized. We need to call on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) during these times to help us die to self so that God can more completely live in us.

The problem is, despite how wonderful the result, going through the process sucks! It sucks in every way: painfully, emotionally, physically, spiritually- every bad “ly” you can think of happens to us when going through the tsouris of life. And there isn’t much to do about it- you can’t run away from it, you can’t avoid it, and you have to wait until it runs it’s course. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and calling out to God may not help because God may be behind it.

Not always. Remember, we live in a cursed world, and sometimes that means having to deal with it. God isn’t always to blame. In fact, my personal opinion from reading about God all these years, is that He isn’t so petty as to cause your car to break down if you sinned, or the ladder to fall if you are working on the Sabbath, or have you suffer through “Montezuma’s Revenge” because you ate a ham sandwich for lunch when you knew you shouldn’t have. Maybe, sometimes, little things will happen that (as we look back later) we can see led us to something that was a Godly blessing or prevented us from tsouris, and yes- maybe, just maybe, God did make sure that little thing happened to protect us. Maybe the car did break down so that we didn’t get stuck in that 10 car pile-up on Interstate 95 that we would have been in. But, then again, maybe it just happened.

I don’t drive myself crazy (which, in my case, is a very short ride) with thinking about these things. God is very busy running the Universe, and although I know He happily makes time to hear my prayers, He is multi-tasking all the time. And I just don’t see Him going out of His way to cause something small to happen to me as a punishment for a sin. If that was true, at the rate I sin, He would have a full-time job.

Tsouris sucks- there’s no doubt about it. The only way to get through it is to understand it. By that I mean we need to remember we live in a cursed world, that we are separated from it, that the enemy does make time to do many, small annoying things to get us to curse the world and to curse God, and the enemy runs the world. He wasn’t thrown down to hell, but to the Earth, and he is the Prince of the Air (Ephesians 2:2.) What goes through the air? TV, radio, advertising, cell phone usage, Internet-all of these are controlled by the enemy, by definition of his kingdom, and we are bombarded by it constantly, day after day, year after year, until we think that, just like Mick Jagger says in that famous song, “He can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarette as me!”  We compare ourselves to others instead of to what God says we should be. And often it seems, just like the song says, we can’t get no satisfaction.

But you can get satisfaction! The satisfaction of knowing that the tsouris is temporary and the joy tsouris allows us to feel will be eternal! I wrote a blog about SWISHSo What, I‘m Saved, Halleluyah! We need to remember not just that tsouris happens, but that it makes us better and that it is part of being alive. And more than that, we need to remember that the pain we feel now will allow us to feel the total and pure joy of salvation when that time comes.

Shaul tells us in Philippians 3:14:

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Messiah Yeshua.”

We need to keep our gaze focused not on what is behind, or even what is here now, but on what is coming. That is how we get through tsouris- not concerning ourselves with what is happening as much as looking forward to when it is over. Things always seem so far away when we wait for them, and when we look back it all seems to have happened so quickly. Keep focused on the future, remind yourself that this is going to be over and think about the joy you will have when that happens.

We need to make our own time machine, but one that only works in one direction- the future. When in the midst of tsouris, get into your time machine and travel to the future; don’t look back, just wait there. Before you know it, the present will be with you in the future and the tsouris will be over.

When the tsouris of life is over, your joy in salvation will be complete! That is a promise from God.

Keep that in mind when you feel down and you will be uplifted.

Empty Joy

David tells us, over and over in the psalms he wrote, that the joy of the Lord is wonderful. When we think of God we think of love, peace, joy and salvation.

It is true that knowing the Lord has given me a sense of peace I never had before, and it is true that I find joy in His word, comfort in trusting faithfulness that His promises are solid and completely trustworthy, and spiritual completion in knowing that I can be a “born again believer” and still be Jewish.

I feel bad for those people that don’t understand that being a Believer is not easy. There are so many people, “born again” people, that I have met along the way who only want to hear about God’s love and compassion. They want to know His Grace, they cry and scream, “I love you, Lord!” But I wonder if they really do. I believe they think they do, but do they, really? If all they know is love and forgiveness, they don’t know all about God. He is all about judgement and punishment, too. He gave us laws and regulations to live by…commandments. His commandments are not a buffet for us to pick and choose which we like and which we don’t, and expect that God will accept us, anyway. His commandments are mandatory, they are what He says we should do and be. If we ignore what God says to do, then we are ignoring God, and that is not the way to get to know Him. You can’t really love someone without knowing all about them- that isn’t love, it’s infatuation. It is superficial, and that is why so many people fall away and keep going from one church to another, one synagogue to another, this week they’re Baptist, next week they’re Episcopalian, and by this time next year they’re probably going to be Methodists. They bounce between religions and places of worship because they only want the surface, they want to hear about the love and compassion and forgiveness, and don’t want to know about the laws, commandments and judgements that come from disobeying.

If God doesn’t judge against those who do not truly do T’Shuva (turning from sin) then we cannot trust His promise of salvation. It’s that easy, and that basic, and (should be) that frightening for those who think they can be loved and forgiven but they don’t have to obey His Torah. God gave us Torah as our guidelines, the way to know right from wrong, and the way He says we should live and worship Him. We all fall short, but how many times do we read in His word that God sees the heart? That means that what we do or don’t do is less important than what we want to be doing. If I sin but in my heart I hate the sin I do and want desperately to sin less, God knows. God also knows if I don’t care about what His Torah says, if I am more than happy to let someone in a religious position of authority tell me I am saved by God’s love and forgiveness, and if in my heart that’s all I want. I don’t want to do as He says, I don’t want to change what I do or what I like, I just want to be loved and forgiven. If that is in my heart, that all I want is God’s forgiveness and don’t want to  do anything He says I must, do you really think that will please God? Do you really think that God will accept me into His salvation if my heart doesn’t care about Him?

Do you really think God is that gullible?  That God doesn’t care if we obey Him or not?

Torah, according to Shaul (Paul), created sin. He said that because without knowing what is right and how God wants us to act (Torah), we can’t know that to disobey those laws and regulations is what God defines as sin. Actions are, in and of themselves, neither right nor wrong- there has to be a comparison, a Yin and a Yang, some rating system to allow us to weigh one against the other.  There is plenty of joyfulness in the world, and plenty of sadness, so we all, whether we are believers, pagans, atheists or whatever, feel joy and sadness.

But to really experience the joy of the Lord, we need to know the Lord. And to know the Lord, we have to know who He is and know all He has done. That’s all in the bible.

I was asked the other day by someone about how Christians could act a certain way. The person thought that arguing against allowing Syrian refugees into the USA was not a “Christian” thing to do. The issue wasn’t really whether Christians should allow refugees in or not- the real issue was that this person didn’t know what being a “Christian” was all about. The assumption this person had was that all “good Christians” should love and forgive and do what they can to help people. I explained that wanting to help others doesn’t mean being a naive idiot and endangering yourself. Yeshua told His disciples to be as gentle as doves and as wise as snakes.

To define a “Christian” person as one who tries to do as God wants is a good definition.  The next step is to understand what God wants so that one can then properly identify a “Believer/Christian” from others.

The only way to know what God wants is to know God; to read the User Manual He gave us through Moshe (Moses), the Prophets, and the writers of the New Covenant Gospels and Epistles. Until you read the bible, and more than just once or twice, you can’t really know anything about God. And if you don’t know anything about God, then you can’t say anything about when someone is a “good Christian” or not.

It’s like trying to identify a good wine from a bad wine- if you don’t know anything about wine, how can you say one is better or worse than another?

That’s why I say the joy people feel when they do not know God is empty- it is not anywhere near what they could feel, if they were able to have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) fill them with joy.  Not that people who don’t believe in God cannot feel any joy at all- that isn’t what I am trying to say. What I am trying to say (I hope I am succeeding) is that once someone knows the joy we can feel only from God, everything else is substandard and empty.

I have felt God’s joy- I have been brought to tears of joy praying to Him, worshipping Him in song, and often just thinking about what He has done for me. When I watch the testimony I gave years ago (there is a link to it in my bio) I still get wet-eyed because I still feel the joy that came at that moment, when the Ruach HaKodesh entered me.

It was life-changing.

I wish everyone could know the fullness of joy that we can have when we allow God to fill us. What the world offers is dreck, useless and momentary because it is really a false sense of joy. It has the emotional kick of a small firecracker, whereas the joy of the Lord is an atom bomb! There is no comparison.

If you wonder why you aren’t as happy as you think you should be, or you feel you really aren’t happy at all, read the bible, get to know who God is through what He has done, and then make up your mind to accept and embrace Him, according to the way He says we should, or continue to wander through life feeling like there should be more, but never really getting it.

Real joy is here, right in front of you, within grasp, and God’s hand is reaching out to you. You need to reach back.