If I didn’t believe that God was involved in orchestrating various trials in my life to turn them into a boatload of blessings, I’d be a crack-head by sunset tomorrow.
My core values are based on the presuppositions that:
- There is a God who is exceptionally kind, radically loving, and unparalleled in power.
- God is very involved in the day-to-day activity of our lives.
- You and I are the crowning images of God’s glory.
- Life’s not fair.
- I’ve seen a preview of the final chapter and God wins.
Trusting God and keeping my powder dry
Oliver Cromwell advised his troops, “Trust God and keep your powder dry,” a quotation recorded in “Oliver’s Advice,” in 1834 by Valentine Blackner. It describes the tension between God’s involvement and man’s responsibility. Like getting my balance before I get out of bed, each day I try to find that balance between God’s activity and my responsibility.
God has allowed me this moment to tribulate
An old Southern preacher said, “If Jesus says were going to have tribulation in this world, He expects us totribulate.” The most comforting thing in my present tribulatin’ is the belief that God has, in His very good and sovereign plan, allowed this to improve my joy. Jesus, after he had been beaten, was asked by Pilate, “Do you realize I have the power to give or take your life?” Jesus responded, “Mmm, not really. You can’t do anything unless my Father lets you.” Jesus endured the suffering because He knew joy waited on the other side of the misery.
Special blessings come only after suffering
The resurrection of Jesus is astonishing proof that blessings follow suffering. I believe that my very loving Father has allowed this and has a tremendous blessing reserved with my name on it. It’s a blessing that is only reached through suffering. God’s economy is kind of funny that way: suffering = blessing. Can’t say that I like that formula, but that’s the way it seems to operate. It might be Friday, but Sunday’s coming.
He has much, much better plans for me. No, He doesn’t like to see me suffer, and no, He didn’t cause the suffering. But He promises that the suffering will produce something marvelous in me if I let it. I don’t want stuff; I want Peace; Joy; Gentleness; Kindness; Patience; Hope; Revelation of the furious love of Jesus. Those are the blessings I’m after. Things money can’t buy.
Partnering with God instead of Performing for God
I grew up a Preacher’s Kid and, for a time, I was the PK your parents warned you about. Then I became a minister. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
I grew up believing that behavior modification was the ultimate objective of faith. Being a “Christian” meant you tried really hard to be a good boy or girl and, if you weren’t, God was going to zap you. And if He wasn’t quick enough, then self-righteous folks in the church were more than happy to be your judge, jury, and social executioner.
A great epiphany came when I was 42 years old (hey, I’m a slow learner), and read John 5:19. Jesus said, “I can do nothing by myself, but what I see my Father do, then I join him in it.” At that moment I understood that a relationship with God wasn’t about performance, it was about partnership. I quit trying to do great things for God and, instead, try to do great things with God. He’s looking for partners, not performers. The Apostle Paul wanted to know the power of His resurrection AND the fellowship of His sufferings. I would never voluntarily sign up for the second part of that.
Keeping my powder dry
How I react makes all the difference in my heart. If I see suffering as punishment or the result of some random act, then I despair. My response determines the level of blessing I will get to enjoy.
Without hope, I’d be a drug addict
And, if I didn’t believe these things, I’d soon be a drug addict. I would self-medicate to dull the pain with anything I could find. Doubt any of it would be any good, long term.
Do you wrestle with these issues to? Would you agree with me or not? I’m not saying I’m always right, but I am saying these are things that give me hope. What has given you hope in the middle of your suffering.