“Chaplains Blog Book … San Diego … part II”
Jim & Linda Jack
Welcome to “Testing & Training” 101. We discovered that our home was flooded on 8/8/08, after being gone for almost three weeks. The number eight in the Scriptures is “the season of full measure and overflow.” I guess August eighth was our season to overflow with an abundance of water in our house. Even in the midst of lots of water, and having to deal with insurance adjusters and mortgage companies, we still remained fully focused on the Lord daily.
The book of James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” When … it’s only a matter of when it happens to you, not if. Encounter … is something that arises unexpectedly, with no time to prepare. Various … can be any surprising types of tests.
Testing and training His people is one of God's important strategies that enable His children to succeed in their spiritual life. This is why we do not live a life free of trials. These trials are sent (or allowed) specifically to see if our faith is real or simply empty words.
It is only when you are tested in battle that you become skilled warriors. These battles come your way to test what you know in your mind in order that they might become part of your heart. God has already given you the victory therefore; choose complete dependence on Him and obedience to Him. Thus, “We fight “from” victory, not for victory.” (Larry Smiley)
“Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times” (2 Corinthians 4:1 MSG). Hard times just mean we have to work a little harder, not walking off the job as a quitter.
God’s commands sometimes defy human logic. The command to rejoice in suffering doesn’t make sense until we realize the effect … that’s when we learn to speak God’s dialect. These commands keep us focused on the Lord and the good things He can bring out of hardship. A mind or your voice is all any believer really needs to praise the Lord!
The apostle Paul looked beyond his difficulties to what the Lord was accomplishing in his life. Paul celebrated the great ministry that he had been given by God (the importance of God’s calling on your life). Every one of us can have a great ministry by answering the call. Can you hear me now? Just do it!
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV).
Our hardships have purpose; they develop endurance, strengthen our character, and solidify our hope. The rewards are “deepened faith” and “preparation for greater service.” If we allow doubt to cloud our faith, we won’t be able to rejoice in what God is doing in and through our life. If we can’t rejoice, we are in danger of giving up before God’s good work is completed.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21 NIV). “Bondage to decay,” … even creation is frustrated; it’s a real pain in the … earth.
There is new life on the other side of pain. How do you deal with it now, wait patiently. “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen in no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:24-25 NIV).
We don’t always feel blessed when we are suffering. But it proves our faith. When we persevere through a trial, we begin to understand that we can remain steadfast and obedient even in the midst of a challenge. But it purifies our life. We are driven into God’s arms by suffering, as we grow closer to Him, He’ll bring to light any awareness of wrong attitudes and wrong actions. But it prepares us for greater service. Pride crumbles when we realize we’re incapable of living the Christian life on our own. Pain is often the shortest route to God. If suffering strengthens our faith, purifies our heart, and equips us for greater service, then we should thank the Lord for the way He will use it in our life. A life of ease and pleasure isn’t always a sign of blessing. Sometimes He whispers. Sometimes He talks. And sometimes He shouts!
Some good advice is; “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (1 Peter 4:12-13 MSG). God is always on the throne, He’s always in the battle, and He’s always refining our character … in His way.
If you like being in the middle of the battle on the liquid quarter mile, then you should be prepared to be in the thick of God’s battles. It’s part of the Christian life. It’s a fight to the finish. This battle is not for the weak hearted either. Refining your character means you can take the heat!
Character allows a person to manage the ups and downs of life. “Faith is the hearts response to the character of God” (Adrian Rogers). “All I have seen has taught me to trust God for all I haven’t seen” (Ralph W. Emerson).
If you don’t believe God wants the best for you, you’ll keep trying to run the show yourself. Remember, responsibility is doing your part by praying, obeying and trusting God. And control is manipulating the circumstances to engineer the outcome you want.
“Adversity is nearly always a better teacher than prosperity.” (Joe Gibbs) “I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift” (2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG). Appreciate everything God has given you.
“Missionary life is simply a chance to die.” (Amy Carmichael) “Every God-direction is road tested” (2 Samuel 22:31 MSG). Jesus Christ tested the waters of adversity long before any of us ever thought about difficulties. If everything was clear and the answers all made sense, we wouldn’t need to live by faith. But we do need to live by faith … every day!
“May you be covered by the dust of your Rabbi?” An old Jewish saying tells you to walk so close to your rabbi that his dust gets on you. We all need to walk close to Christ (our Rabbi), walk in His footsteps, walk on His path, walk in His ways, and always walk in obedience to Him. It would be an honor to be covered by His dust!
“The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit’s work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.” (Os Hillman)
“Your ministry will never go any further than the pain you’re willing to endure” (Roland Osborne). Troubles can serve as a constant reminder of the evil result of sin (this equals missing the mark). Testing allows for a greater witness to other of God’s overcoming grace.
Some how and some way, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!
“Christ did not come to shield us from the grief and pain of life;
But those who have His peace inside can thrive within the strife.” (David Sper)
I pray that you pass every test that comes your way today, tomorrow, and even in the future as you cherish the Teacher who saves you, leads you, and helps you pass (into Paradise) with flying colors!