Full disclosure. I don't particularly like trials and I really don't like affliction.
Yes, I knew that would shock you. And another spoiler… I am not unique in this aversion to pain.
I am often very impatient as I traverse these times in my life. In fact, my prayer usually goes a bit like this:
“Let it be over.
Remove my pain and heartache.
Heal my body, my spirit, my relationship, my finances.
AND DO IT NOW”
Anybody with me so far?
It's OK to not be OK
Let me stop and say that there is nothing really wrong with this prayer. Even Christ prayed something similar in the garden before he was to die.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42)
But we can’t forget the next part of his cry.
“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
See, as much as we would love to believe the lie that everything will always go our way after becoming a Christian, the Bible clearly tells us this is not the case.
In fact, John 16:33 says “In the world you will have tribulation.”
We are not promised our best life now! Our promise is SO MUCH GREATER. Because that verse also has a second part and it is enough to make me want to shout to the heavens.
“But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
You will have trouble
So, you WILL have trouble. You will see pain, heartache, sickness, pandemic, financial stress and rejection. It's inevitable. But you can also KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control and he has already won your victory. No matter what this world throws at you, you will win if you trust in Christ.
And you can know that God is working in you through these difficult times.
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”
You can choose to handle these moments of hardship in many ways. You can be impatient and self-focused (like I am so many times), or you can be intentional about looking to the Hope of salvation and the reason you have a future at all.
You can place your hope in Him
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3: 22-24
It is in the moments of my greatest despair that I can most clearly see God's grace.
I love this excerpt from Charles Surgeon. It reminds me to pray for the removal of affliction, but pray even more for growth not only in spite of but actually because of my suffering.
“This is a promise in essence if not in form. We have need of patience, and here we see the way of getting it. It is only by enduring that we learn to endure, even as by swimming men learn to swim. You could not learn that art on dry land, nor learn patience without trouble. Is it not worthwhile to suffer tribulation for the sake of gaining that beautiful equanimity of mind which quietly acquiesces in all the will of God?
Oh, for grace to let my trials bless me! Why should I wish to stay their gracious operation? LORD, I ask Thee to remove my affliction, but I beseech Thee ten times more to remove my impatience. Precious LORD Jesus, with Thy cross engrave the image of Thy patience on my heart.”
Charles Spurgeon, Daily Entry in Faith's Check Book
Journal or create what you are learning
I've created this little Bible Journaling Devotional Kit to help you express your worship and study this topic more fully and creatively. I invite you to pick it up today as you dig into the truth of what God says about our suffering.
Have a blessed day. Trust God and never forget that He is your Hope.