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Responding to Trials

Recently, I came across an old email that Don sent me a couple of years ago. We were in the midst of our struggle with infertility, and I was in need of some encouragement. I suppose Mother's Day has me thinking about all of this again, and even though the pain doesn't feel as "stinging" as it did then, I still appreciate these words just as much today!

  • Remember that to live is Christ. The life of satisfaction is a life of growing in the knowledge of God and being used by him to expand his kingdom and benefit his people and spread his Gospel. This is the life that is truly life. This is the life that brings real hope and a deep anticipation of the Glory and inheritance to come.
    • “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will not hunger, and whoever believes in me will not thirst” John 6:35 
  • Remember that every ounce of pain and disappointment that you feel is “grace cloaked in grief.” It is pure grace to your soul. God is winning your heart through your pain. “O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from thee.” And why do we not ask to fly from our crosses? Because they lift our heads up to God.
    • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1)
    • "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
    • "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
  • Trust that God’s way of ordering our life is perfect. What he brings into our lives is the best thing possible.
    • In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).
    • God is in control and is working out every detail according to his will, "for he is in the heavens and does whatever he pleases." His plan for us is better than our own plan for us, so resign yourself to His will and rest in Him.
This last part is from one of our favorite pastors, John Piper. 
I have never heard anyone say, "The really deep lessons of life have come through times of ease and comfort." But I have heard strong saints say, "Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God's love and growing deep with him, has come through suffering."  Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there.  Charles Spurgeon said that those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls. The pearl of greatest price is the glory of Christ.  Thus Paul stresses that in our sufferings the glory of Christ's all-sufficient grace is magnified.  If we rely on him in our calamity, and he sustains our "rejoicing in hope," then he is shown to be the all-satisfying God of grace and strength that he is.  If we hold fast to him "when all around our soul gives way," then we show that he is more to be desired than all we have lost.  Christ said to the suffering apostle, "My grace is sufficient for you, for [my] power is perfected in weakness."  Paul responded to this: "Gladly, then, I will boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  So suffering clearly is designed by God not only as a way to wean Christians off of self and onto grace, but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine.  That is precisely what faith does; it magnifies Christ's future grace.
 The deep things of life in God are discovered in suffering.  So it was with Jesus himself.  "Although he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).  The same book where we read this also tells us Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).  So "learning obedience" does not mean switching from disobedience to obedience.  It means growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of obedience.  It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been otherwise demanded.


Rochelle said...

I appreciate this sooo much! Thank you for sharing!!

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