Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Improving our Trials

As I grow older, and my sojourn is prolonged, I am more aware of sorrow. It seems to come from every angle. There are people suffering with cancer, couples seeking to have children only to have miscarriages or infertility, children rejecting the true God, widows, orphans, friends struggling in their marriages, those in need of financial relief, and those facing death, not to mention the pain of walking in a world that hates our God and his people. Even as I list these, I am reminded of my many friends who are right now in need of prayer and comfort. This is truly a vale of tears. However, even as we look at the pain and sorrow encompassing us, let us not become discouraged or be afraid. As Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me."

We need to look to God in all the trials of this life. We must believe in Him. We must as the catechism teaches know, "what to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man." God has revealed to us all that is necessary for "life and godliness". He has given us many patterns to follow in trial. One does not have to look very far in scripture to find many examples. Only think of Moses, the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, who was estranged from his family at a young age, committed murder, knew the solitude of rejection and desert wanderings, felt the burden of delivering his people, walked with them for years even as they constantly resented and strayed away from his counsels. His was not a life of ease and pleasure. Think of Joseph spending all those years in prison falsely accused. Think of the sorrow of Hosea as his wife played the harlot. We have David pursued by his son, sent from his home and throne to wander as one homeless even after years of fleeing for his life from Saul. The examples are manifold of hardship and pain.

Then we can turn to church history which is replete with those who have suffered and used it for good. Think of the early church martyrs and how many of them praised God amid the flames or the beasts. Think of John Owen who lost 10 of 11 children and yet wrote so pastorally. What about John G. Paton who lost everything: wife, child, all earthly possessions and continued to preach to the heathen of the New Hebrides. And there are many, many more.

My purpose is not to dwell on the negative however, but to point us to a Savior who has purposefully planned every event that fills our days. There is not one maverick molecule in God's world. There is not one thing that will come to you this day or any other, that has not passed through the scrutiny of a nail scarred hand and been approved to be the best for you and most glorifying for the Almighty Father Jehovah.

As wives, we love it when our husbands plan a nice romantic evening for us. We come home to find roses in hand, our favorite music playing, and the arms of our husbands. We realize that our husband has planned it all: the dinner, the childcare, the details. We are to simply enjoy company and conversation of the evening. But think on a much greater level, the lover of your soul has providentially planned every bit of minutiae of your days from waking to sleeping for your benefit. Every second of every day is planned in a way to demonstrate His love for you. He wants to see you demonstrate your love for Him in the response to all.

And so I come to my topic, improving our trials. What do I mean? I mean that we take each day and everything as a gift from God. Yes, this means that driver who cuts you off, the person who speaks unkindly, the child who disobeys, the crayon in the laundry, the "accident", and the occurrences of your day. We take each of them and use them to God's glory. We "overcome evil with good", "return a blessing for a curse", "turn the other cheek", discipline by faith, and pray that we will see what is in our hearts as fire makes the dross come to the surface and God's hand skims it out. We use each difficulty as well as success to drive us to Christ and growth in His grace. We improve our trials.

As we prayerfully consider the playing out of the drama each day puts before us, we can flee to Christ. What better things to be mindful of? How could we resent a trial that brings us closer to Him? Instead of being angry, we can use the emotional energy for good works. We can comfort others, pray for our enemies, be kind to those who hurt us. Dear christian, be not defeated, your king is victorious and we live in Him. Use the trials of this day to bring you closer to Him and to love Him and His people more.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you... therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good." 1 Peter 4:12-14, 19

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever." 1 Peter 5:6-11

"So do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

1 comment:

  1. Shannon, this was a word spoken in season for me today. Thanks for the encouragement, and, as it happens, rebuke. Love you.