I think the vast majority of us live under one very incorrect assumption about the object of this life on earth. By “us” I am talking about Christians. We think that once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and are baptized into him for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, that the objective of our lives is to avoid pain and suffering and be “happy”. We might not word it as such, or say it out loud, but that assumption seems to be at the heart of our frustration and dejection when we do experience pain and suffering – when life is hard more than it is easy. But what if the point isn’t to avoid pain and suffering? What if the point is to be refined in whatever fires God knows we need to cause us to recognize our utter dependence on Him daily – not just for salvation? What if the very things we are running from and ignoring and hiding are the very things God wants to use for His glory to be made known in our lives and in the lives of those around us?
Maybe that is why James said to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials of many kinds – and he did say “when”, not “if”. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) Of course I also know that these words fall on deaf ears sometimes. There are times when all I can see is the situation that I want “fixed” and I’m not even willing to try to look at it from God’s perspective. But He is so patient to bring me back to my knees, humbled again, repentant and longing for more of Him. It’s not all that difficult for me to wrap my mind around these concepts. The difficult part is walking them out, over and over again, day by day, hour by hour, minute my minute. But thanks be to God that “He who began a good work in [us] will be faithful to complete it”! (Philippians 1:6)
I like this quote by Charles Spurgeon in reference to God using our trials for His glory in the lives of those around us:
“I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their despondency. So I believe that the darkest and most dreadful experience of a child of God will help him to be a fisher of men if he will but follow Christ.”
That’s all for now. I do feel the need to write a disclaimer that I probably will need to be reminded of the very things I’ve typed, if not later today, than probably tomorrow. :)