As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles upon an enchanted mirror. Unlike normal mirrors, this one does not show the reflection of the person standing in front of it. Instead, it shows a reflection of “the deepest, most desperate desire” of that person’s heart.
But the object inside the mirror is just a mirage—a tantalizing vision trapped on the other side of the glass. This, of course, drives the mirror’s visitors mad with frustration.
But you and I both know this is a blessing in disguise. Because even if they were able to get their hands on the object of their affection, unless that object was Christ, it would inevitably disappoint....
Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
When I was researching my next book, I read tons of dense books with “paragraphs” that spanned entire pages—sometimes multiple pages. Every time I approached another mammoth passage, I felt exhausted before I even began reading. It felt like the cognitive equivalent of staring up at Mount Everest before an ascent.
After complaining about my own pain long enough (first-world problems, I know), the Lord reminded me that I’ve written some long paragraphs myself. And if long paragraphs made my work feel arduous, my longwindedness probably makes your reading feel arduous too.
So I went back through the manuscript I was writing and took a machete to the document, chopping every paragraph down to size.
That’s a small example of one reason I think we can all give thanks for the “thorns and thistles” that make our work difficult: Painful work...
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (John 19:1-3)
God never intended for work to be painful and frustrating. According to Genesis 1 and 2, work was God’s first gift to humankind!
But when sin entered the world, the curse broke every part of creation, including the world of work. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (see Genesis 3:17-18).
That backstory makes the Romans’ choice of a “crown of thorns” for Jesus all the more interesting. Knowingly or not, the Romans used a thorn—this symbol of the curse—to crown the One whose resurrection would overturn that curse. It is precisely...
When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble. (Proverbs 11:2)
A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with one of my favorite authors—someone who has sold millions more books than I have.
I was picking my friend’s brain on publishing and book marketing, when all of a sudden, he started asking me questions about marketing children’s books.
Given the massive respect I have for this person, I was really taken aback by his questions. “Why are you asking me about book marketing?” I asked.
My friend replied, “Because I have not cracked the nut on children’s books, and honestly, it’s been a bit frustrating. You, on the other hand, seem to have figured this out.”
After muttering some false humility, my friend cut me off by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Jordan,” he said, “Everyone I meet is my superior in some way.”
I love that perspective. And my friend only had it because of the frustrating...
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18)
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I don’t know who coined this popular piece of fortune cookie wisdom, but I can tell you they never read Genesis 3.
After sin entered the world, God said that work will be “painful toil…all the days of your life.” Not “painful toil…until you choose a job you love.” Work will be frustrating until the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23).
Now, I love what I do. I’ve never been more confident that creating content like these devotionals is the work God created me to do. And Lord willing,...