Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Purpose for Trials

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
-Romans 8:28-30

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

What is crazy faith? Thanking God for your suffering.

It's an indisputable fact that our lives have trials, failures, and suffering. The scope of them range from stubbing our toe to disease and open heart surgery, from ungrace to persecution, from lapses of judgment to lapses of character. Just when you seem to be handling one trial, another pops up. This is life.

Again, like with many things of God, He presents us with choices. He presents us with gifts we must choose to accept and sometimes even struggle to obtain. Just like we choose to accept grace, we can choose to accept our trials as gifts.

So I should thank God for these obstacles? It does sound crazy, doesn't it? God, thank you for giving me a disease that I must persevere through. God, thank you for putting the looming heart surgery over my head. God, thank you for putting people in my life that let me down. Yes, and with complete seriousness, thank you for these trials.

We can either let our trials defeat us, or we can defeat them by allowing our trials and struggles to make us stronger. I have an auto-immune disease that eats away at me and necessitates surgery if I'm going to live. I could let this disease and surgery defeat me, I could let it limit my life and enthusiasm for it, I could let it make me miserable. But instead of consciously choosing this outlook and life of misery...I choose hope, courage, and faith in God. Absolutely verses like Php. 4:13 carry me: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", or Rom. 8:31: "If God is for us, who can be against us?". I choose a life of hope in Christ over a life of death in despair. I choose life over death. That's why I run half-marathons; and each one completed, each mile finished is a blessing and testimony to Christ that all things are possible when you leave these things up to faith.

Not all of my trials are so visible or physically painful. Some trials are very personal, relational trials. I don't think I would have come to Christ had I not been through a messy, unGodly, and even sinful relationship with an ex-boyfriend several years ago. "The man who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." (Gal. 1.23) Your biggest spiritual failure is God's greatest testimony for you to share. I can clearly point this personal low in my life and trace it to how I am saved today. Only God could take our messes and make something glorious out of them.

Without my trials, I know I wouldn't be the same person. I don't think I would have accepted Christ. And I'm positive I would be miserable, unsatisfied, and alone. Are you kidding me? Absolutely I thank God for my trials! I pray to God that I have the strength to make it through them, the wisdom and faith to believe that something so great I can't imagine are on the other side. I remind myself that these trials shape us to be more like Christ. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son...

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