I have this idea that maybe, just maybe, everything that ever happens is intended to inspire within us worship of our almighty, all powerful, all sustaining creator; and maybe, just maybe he has a better grasp of everything going on around us than we could ever imagine.
If you read the post I wrote at the beginning of the summer, you know what I’m saying when I talk about utter chaos ensuing in my life over the past year, and the ways that I have been able to see the Lord’s hand at work in those situations. Well, this summer, he didn’t let up. More trials, more lessons, and more questions.
After hearing about some substantially surprising and upsetting news on one of my 2-4s, (the 24 hours we get off from camp a week) I asked my dear friend Jen Ford to share a meal with me so that I could process through some things with her. She’s a phenomenal question-asker, and one of the most proactive initiators I’ve ever met. She recognizes needs, and moves to take action. As I sat with her, I sobbed about how unfair it all seemed… that I would be facing yet another trial. “Its just one thing after another,” I cried, “how much am I going to have to give?” She looked me square in the eye, and with her sage wisdom, knowing exactly what I needed to hear, she replied with a smile, and said, “everything.”
That was definitely not something I wanted to hear in that moment, but those words will never escape me. Everything.
What does it look like to live with everything surrendered to the Lord? I think this is the very lesson I have been learning this year.
When I think about someone who lost everything, my thoughts fall on Job. Job was a blameless and righteous man, and he experienced many worldly blessings because of it. Yet, when he lost everything, he continued to bless the name of the Lord.
Now, I haven’t lost anywhere near as much as Job- he literally lost everything in his life in a matter of minutes. All of his wealth, all of his family, and his good health. Gone. And yet, he blessed the name of the Lord.
It’s incredible how little I recognize God’s hand in my life when I face trials. Honestly, my thoughts turn more often than not to, “God, why?” “Where are you?” “Don’t you care for me?”
But it’s important that we look at the context of these so-called ‘trials’ in our lives.
Scripture says in James 1:2-4, “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 nothing.” James later goes on in verses 12-15 to say, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
It’s important that we recognize the difference between temptation and trials. By definition, a temptation is a desire for something wrong or unwise. God will never give us a desire for something that contradicts his word or his will. Temptation is not of God, but of our sinful nature that desires sin over righteousness. And when we are tempted, we need to understand that we are not alone, because no temptation is new to mankind. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Soapbox moment: There is power in vulnerability. Share with trusted brothers and sisters in the faith what it is you are being tempted by, because chances are they have been tempted by the same thing at one point or another, and they may be able to see what the promised “way of escape” might be better than you can. Don’t hide your sin in darkness. Trials on the other hand are defined as a test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something. So, when it says in James, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” we see that God does allow us to face trials in order to test our faith… why? To show steadfastness... to show the qualities of our character... to show off the way that the Lord transforms the lives of those who love him. He allows us to face trials for one reason- to glorify his name, just as Job does when he looses everything.
I think one of the most fascinating parts of the book of Job comes in chapter 1 verse 7.
“The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Did you catch that? God suggests to Satan that he consider Job. He’s putting his trophy on display- showing off exactly how much Job loves Him. God confidently chooses to allow Satan to test Job, knowing that in the end, He will be glorified. God chose to win an open victory though his servant Job.
And when calamity strikes, how does Job respond? He falls to his knees, and he Worships His maker.
When we face trials and calamities in our lives, how do we choose to respond? I don’t know about you, but my first response usually isn’t to worship God.
But from the moment He created us, God has been seeking one thing- true worshipers; and true worship is shown in the times when it is hardest to express. So rather than questioning him, and wondering why on earth God would allow us to go through these times, let us express the true steadfastness the Lord desires from us, that our faith may have its full effect, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
All this to say, when calamity strikes, and all of a sudden we find ourselves wallowing in our own self pity- wondering where God is, rather than dwelling in our doom, we should rejoice in the goodness of our God. Our knees should hit the ground so fast and so hard we should all be walking around with bloody knees.
Let’s allow God to claim victory over Satan by the ways that we react when he attacks.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:7-10