One of the reasons our joy today in the Western Church is so fragile and thin is that this truth is so little understood– the truth, namely, that eternal life is laid hold of only by a persevering fight for the joy of faith. Joy will not be rugged and durable and deep through suffering where there is not a resolve to fight for it. But today, by and large, there is a devil-may-care, cavalier, superficial attitude toward the ongoing, daily intensity of personal joy in Christ, because people do not believe that their eternal life depends on it.
The last two hundred years have seen an incredible devaluation of the fight for joy. We have moved a hundred miles from Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian labors and struggles and fights all his life “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) in the Celestial City. Oh, how different is the biblical view of the Christian life than the one prevalent in the Western church. It is an earnest warfare from beginning to end, and the war is to defend and strengthen the fruit-bearing fields of joy in God.
James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trials, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” The person who will receive the crown of eternal life is the person who successfully endured trial– that is, the person who fights for joy in the pain of loss and gets the victory over the unbelief of anger and bitterness and discouragement.
When I Don’t Desire God