For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with circumstantial joy. My happiness perpetually swings on a wide scale that ranges from giddy, almost hysterical excitement to a headlong plunge into a depths of despair that rivals Anne Shirley's most pitiable moods. The one and only answer to these fickle emotions is that they are built on the wrong foundation. When life is easy, when things go my way and everyone loves me and I'm organized and efficient and dinner is ready on time and the house is clean, satisfaction wells within me and I radiate cheery goodwill. The converse happens just as easily. I'm stressed, running late, my new car is emitting strange noises and leaks, the AC is broken and someone looked at me the wrong way, and instantly I'm a snapping turtle with seething resentment welling towards all mankind.

At our church's recent leadership retreat, we were reminded to bring the gospel to light in EVERY situation that we and those around us face. For the rest of the conference, and since, I've grappled with just what that constant gospel application looks like. Do you brush off someone facing terminal illness or the death of a child with a flippant, "Don't worry, Jesus died for you!" Does the image of a Savior hanging on a cross, bearing the sin of the world on His shoulders instantly alleviate the frustration of things and plans and relationships gone wrong? It can, and it should.

I believe the secret of true gospel application means reminding ourselves each and every day, in the midst of each trial and triumph, that this life, this day, this "slight momentary affliction" is not the final answer. For those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose, earth is a dot on an eternal line and we are simply passing through. What comfort to know that the greatest pain we feel is not random chance, but a divinely given opportunity to grow into who we were made to be. When my eyes and my hope are set on Jesus, let the storms and the sunshine come as they may - I know to Whom I belong and where my ultimate destination is. What comfort in the midst of uncertainty! What relief in the midst of hurt! May I be the kind of person who takes whatever life throws at me in stride - knowing that each circumstance is from the hand of my Father who has prepared for me "a weight of glory beyond all comparison."

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. - 1 Peter 1:3-7