Have you ever wondered if it was all worth it? Have you looked at all your circumstances and trials and wondered if this “Christian thing” was all it was cracked up to be? Have you ever longed for an easier way or a life of ease without trials and hardship? I don’t know too many people who can say “no” to those questions. I know I could not. I was recently recalling a time when my faith was pressed beyond what I perceived to be its limits, and I was longing just to be done with this whole thing called living the Christian life. To be honest, I wanted rest and respite and God gave trial and adversity. My flesh screamed at how unfair it all was, and I admit that I was completely ungrateful. I was so angry with God for the never ending parade of stuff that came my way; I confess I did not see Him as loving or kind at that time. I had a totally wrong view of God and my circumstances!
What I have been taught and I believe, and what you have read here on this blog is that God keeps the believer. Jude 24 tells us that God will make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless and that He is able to keep us from stumbling. God is the one who holds onto us and keeps us for Himself. I can tell you I experienced being “kept” in a very real way. No matter how I kicked and screamed God would not let me go. There was very strong assurance that there was nothing I could to do to make God stop loving me. Along side that assurance was the understanding that, yes, I was headed into another stormy sea and that it was intentional.
God always does things intentionally. Every lightening bolt He throws is intentional! Every natural disaster or created beauty is intentional! Every flower, insect, and speck of dust is intentional. God is an active participant in His world and in our lives. He is an active participant in our trials and sorrows too. I have learned these trials that we hate so deeply are intentional. Their purpose is to prove to us that our faith is genuine and to increase our faith to the point where we will not question the purpose of God’s activity in our lives.
In looking back on that time of life, I have a glimpse of what He wanted to teach me. I wish I could tell you I had some spectacular revelation of some great new theological insight, but I can’t. He was teaching me this simple truth: God is the sovereign God of the universe and He does what He wants with what is His. And what He does is always very good. God is faithful to present us with the same lessons over and over again until we learn them well.
While God understands our grief at the things that befall us, He does not condone our sinful anger. Be careful, God is a holy God and we are to live every moment in light of who we are in Christ (even when we don’t feel like it). Take the long view; God sees and knows things we don’t. He can see how this all ends and we can rest in that reality. Be wise. Endeavor to see the trial or problem from God’s perspective. Most importantly, be thankful. I sometimes think being thankful is the hardest of all. The heart and flesh want to complain (constantly) and yet we are called to practice thankfulness, even when I didn’t feel like it, or want to.
I have learned that the subject of James 1 is faith and the perfection of our faith as we ride the waves of trials. Faith that produces endurance, faith that produces in us trust in God and His sovereignty, faith that hangs on even when we just want to quit. It seems to me that coming to a perfect faith is going to be a life long adventure!