“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”— (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
Are you going through a difficult time? It’s easy to get discouraged when things get tough. Discouragement can hit anyone. Last week I found out that a well known evangelist I knew committed suicide. It was a shock to say the least. The man was 51 years old and had an 11 year old daughter. He had built up a decent sized ministry and had led many people to Jesus over his 30 year career as an evangelist. Despite all that God had done through him however, he still chose to end his life. He was facing an unknown personal crisis and it caused him to lose hope…
What is your limit?
As long as we follow God in our own strength, there will always be a limit to what kind and what amount of trials and difficulties that we’ll endure. Our human flesh has very real limits. We also naturally idolize people, work, objects or ideas. If God removes these things from us we lose hope. We may even lose our will to live and go to the extreme of taking our own life. In moments like this it is so easy to shake our fist at God and question whether he really loves us.
Our human concept of love and God’s love aren’t the same. Humans tend to believe that if you love someone you’ll accept the person as they are with no expectations of their ever changing. To expect someone to change is to control or manipulate them… God on the other hand accepts us as we are but he isn’t content to leave us as we are. He wants to live inside of us!
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV)
Now, when we ask Him to live inside of us, he starts doing a clean up! He starts going through our stuff. Looking through our closets. Starts doing a spring cleaning! This isn’t what most of us want from God. We would love to feel his love while being able to keep things from changing as much as possible. The thing it though, God loves us too much to leave us as we are. Like an earthly father who has hopes and dreams for his son, God the Father has hopes and dreams for all his children. He sees us as having much greater potential than any of us realize! It’s for this reason that he sends us trials. He is disciplining us.
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV)
We need trials in order to grow. In order for us to start resembling God more. In order to develop love and humility. Just like an earthly child gets spoiled if he or she is never disciplined, we too would be spiritual spoiled brats without trials and difficulties in our life. Instead of complaining about the trials we are facing today. We need to thank God for them! We need to examine them and ask God what he wants us to learn through them. This is how we can turn trials from something unpleasant to being something that is a blessing.