Trials and Joy

Re-posted from InTouch, by Dr. Charles Stanley, September 16, 2014

My pastor is currently preaching from the book of James and Dr. Stanley’s message today is a perfect reminder that through out our lives we all suffer under a variety of difficult trials and hardships. But, if we consider that those times of suffering can be used as a catalyst to help us be mindful that the Lord uses them to mold us into what His desire is for our lives, they’re so much easier to bear.

Trials and Joy

James 1:2-4,12

“Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2)—what a preposterous statement! How can that make sense when joy and trials don’t fit together? But James is presenting a divine vantage point, not a human one. There are some surprising benefits in suffering, which aren’t easy to discern.

First of all, we need to understand that these verses are not telling us to be happy in our pain, but rather to rejoice in the blessings that accompany suffering. The word consider is an accounting term that means “to evaluate.” When we look at hardships from God’s perspective and place the proper value on them, we can rejoice in the beneficial outcome, even while experiencing pain. Humanly speaking, trials hurt; but from the Lord’s point of view, they help.

The only way to rejoice during trials is to understand what God wants them to accomplish. Regardless of the difficulty’s source, we can know that the Lord wants to use it to test our faith and thereby produce endurance and spiritual maturity. In every trial, He has hidden a precious character gem, but whether we receive it depends upon our response. Those who want to be transformed into the image of Christ can rejoice in the many benefits that accompany suffering.

How about you? Does your hunger to know the Lord and be transformed by Him exceed your dread of suffering? None of us want to experience pain, but since it’s an unavoidable reality in this fallen world, why not respond in a way that produces eternal benefit? Let’s not waste our suffering.

Voices

A parental voice from my childhood repeats, like a broken record. “You’re nobody!” or, “You’ll never be anything!”

I answer, “Don’t listen Child of the King! God knows who I am.”

I’m reminded of the scripture verse in 1 Corinthians 2:12.

I’ve have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that I may understand what God has freely given to me. And, verse 15, “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgement:
For, in verse 16, God’s Word says “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But, I have the mind of Christ.”

Take that, evil one! Flee from me! My mind belongs to the One who created me.

God’s Purpose or Mine?

Four boxes of Made New ~ A Hippie Chick’s Journey of Forgiveness arrived via UPS yesterday and this morning they’re sitting in my basement, seemingly staring back at me each time I walk by. I find myself struggling with overwhelming feelings of despair, and how God will open the right doors to share their message. 

Last Sunday, a godly man from church told Pete and I how important it would be to pray over them before we even thought about opening the first box. So, Pete and I lay hands on the stack and specifically prayed, thanking God for the perseverance to witness this accomplishment in our lives, as well as what He will do in lives we’ll never know anything about. 

Despite my anxieties, the Lord had some reassuring words to impart to my soul from my devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. This message reminded me of exactly what my heart and weary soul needed. 

A quote from the words of Oswald Chambers,

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. 

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish-His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49) It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God. 

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees the goal itself. 

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious. 

Writing Made New ~ A Hippie Chick’s Journey has been God-inspired indeed. Yet, the purpose of this book isn’t about my goals, but about what God wants to accomplish, while I trust Him for the outcome and His desire for my life! 

Where can I go from your Spirit?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Psalm 139: 7-10

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Rockhound State Park and Spring Canyon, New Mexico.

It was our second day of vacation and the middle of May. Dry, arid, windy, sun-scorched cacti for far as the eye could see. Nothing alive could grow here, could it?

Dried up ground, covered with a rainbow of colored rocks. Hunting for a treasure – a perfect turquoise stone. Turquoise wasn’t found, but beautiful green and red treasures instead, brought to life with a few drops of moisture applied. To remember this day I’ll take some home for my shade garden.

Animals were scarce, except for several enormous black ravens, catching the high winds rushing into the canyon, in hunt of something to eat. Surely, rattlesnakes and lizards slithered for cover.

It wasn’t hard to imagine how anything or anyone could live in such a harsh and deserted land.

Tall rock formations and deserted caves, rocky crags, some with what seemed like a type of arid moss, chartreuse in color.

Is that a cross in the side of a magnificent rock? It is! I see you Jesus, even in the middle of nowhere.

No matter where I go, YOU are there. Your love and faithfulness fill my soul anew every morning.

Thank you for the bountiful and beautiful reminders of your perfect love.

Life in the Lord is part of His Tapestry

Recently, I finished reading Heaven, by famous Christian author Randy Alcorn. Along with the Bible, it made an extremely profound impact on my spiritual journey with the Lord. I became keenly aware that out of all God’s promises we can’t begin to fathom or have any idea of the eternal and unfailing love He has for us.

My eyes, and the doors of my heart opened to receive more of His promises and the glorious eternity He has prepared for us. It’s hard to begin, or comprehend, what life will be like when I step over into eternity.

One important fact that we need to focus on is that our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. I fully believe that there will come a day, when I’ll be able to look back on my life as the Lord lovingly guides me, allowing me to see how both tragedy and joyous events unfolded from an eternal perspective.

We should look forward to the end of our lives, praying daily, seeking God’s will. His desire is for us to serve Him, showing Christ’s love to a hurting world, in the process, continually mending broken relationships through forgiveness.

That takes faith! Yet, remember, Romans 8:28? ‘We know that all things work for the good to those who love the Lord, those who have been called according to his purpose.
Years ago, I read Why do bad things happen to good people?
I don’t recall the name of the author, but he had an intriguing way of describing events that occur throughout our lives.
To paraphrase, our lives are like part of a tapestry, we only see the threads closest to us, each thread woven in alongside and beside us, but God sees the full picture of a beautifully complete tapestry, every thread carefully placed, and sewn in, by our Creator.

Freedom!

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
Thomas Jefferson
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/freedom.html#xZoKSuuR41b2GWu6.99

October 2011: Pismo Beach, California.
Inviting aromas of Splash Café’s world famous clam chowder, served in a toasted San Luis Sourdough bowl and Mo’s Memphis style hickory smoke barbecue drifted up Pomeroy Avenue, towards the rocky cliffs separating the Central coast from the rest of the state.
My husband and I were on another vacation to an area of California that’s all too familiar for both of us, since that was the area where we met and fell in love. We leisurely made our way past rows of storefronts on our way to the pier and miles of sandy beaches stretched along the pacific coast.
Warm afternoon breezes and valley tourists packing up, preparing for the two and a half-hour drive back to the San Joaquin Valley.
Strolling hand in hand, reminiscing over previous years, once again taking in the thunder of the waves, and the cool, hard sand beneath our bare feet. Another pursuit, searching for a unique, yet somehow abandoned, discarded, home of a sea creature.
We sat down together on the soft warm sand, watching surfers riding an occasional wave and skim boarders sliding over a sheet of sand that looked like a giant mirror reflecting a biplane in the clear sky above.
I stopped a young man and asked, “I’ve never seen this before. The sand looks like it’s an enormous sheet of smooth glass. What does it feel like when you skim over it?”
“It feels like you’re floating on it.”
“Wow, that’s amazing!”
“Yeah. When it’s not this smooth, and we try to skim over it, we fall off our board a lot easier. We love it when it’s like this.”
“That is so incredible! You guys have fun!”
Two others, around fourteen, tucked their boards under their arm and waved goodbye.
Watching from a distance, I commented “If they’re fortunate enough to have a father who cares about their day, I bet when they walk into their house, Dad says, “Hey son, what did you spend this nice day doing?”
To which his reply may be, “Oh, John and I spent the day at the beach, skimming waves. The conditions were perfect.”
I don’t have a penchant to go into a political discussion, but I wonder if we really realize how good our lives are in this country.
Pete and I sat snuggled together and began an in depth contemplating conversation about how privileged we are and how much we take our freedom for granted. The reality of a difficult economy has kept many families from being able to afford to go on long vacations, but consider how freeing it is to be able to pack your family in the car and say, let’s go to the Coast for the weekend.
It’s so commonplace for us to just jump in our own car and drive anywhere we want to go, whether it’s to the grocery store, an afternoon matinee, or to a nice restaurant with a list of entrees a mile long.
If we think about it, one hundred years ago, only the wealthy would have had the type of luxury we enjoy today.
How about those living in impoverished nations? I have never been to a nation as poor as many third world countries, but by what I’ve read and seen in documentaries it makes me extremely thankful to be an American. I’ve never experienced the horrors of starvation and unhealthy living conditions friends have told me that they’ve experienced on a vacation or perhaps while sharing God’s love on a mission trip.
May 1998, after landing at Charles d’Gaule Airport and standing in the security line for what seemed like hours, Pete and I hopped onto a shuttle headed into the city of Paris. Naturally, everything was printed in French and the buildings had roofs that reminded me of old Disney movies like Peter Pan and the 101 Dalmatians. I felt as if I had landed on another planet. This was my first visit to a foreign country and it felt exactly like that, for me, foreign.
While in France we toured ancient castle ruins and saw how severely Christians were tortured for their faith as we made our way south towards vacationing for a few days along the Mediterranean coast. I was so thankful when we landed on US soil that I felt that I would kiss the ground.
Living in this Great Country, we have our own citizens living in unhealthy conditions and families that have a hard time making ends meet until the next payday, or those who are homeless, living on the streets, searching through a restaurant’s garbage to find something worth eating.
Why can’t we see how our nation is so fully loved by God? How is it that we’re so privileged and we’re able to live in a country so richly blessed, when there are so many souls in our world suffering? The amount of various responses to that question, is way more than I could possibly answer.
Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the freedom God has given us. We tend to take each other for granted.
Don’t forget that we live in the United States of America, where freedom reigns.
Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
Thomas Jefferson

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186 other followers

%d bloggers like this: