Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yeah! Trials!

               Perception is everything, or at least that is what I am beginning to see. How we look at a situation determines how we will react to the situation. I would say that I am an optimist- I like to look at everything with a positive attitude, but sometimes that is difficult, especially in the midst of trials and suffering. Our women’s study is in the book of James, and I must say it has already been very convicting. I have had to accept some hard realities about my Christian walk, and have had to step out of my little world of thinking and back into the realm of God. You see, I thought I had come so far, that I had grown so much in regards to obedience and being a servant of God, but in all reality, I have still so much to learn about it all. But that gives me hope, being the optimist that I am, hope comes crashing in and says, “Hey, you may have far to go, but look at the adventure you shall have on the rest of this journey!”
                Once again, I go back to the idea that perception is everything. When I read my bible and I read of all the great men and women of faith, they all had something in common- they too were optimists. They saw the suffering and they experienced the trials of life just as we do, yet they looked upon them as opportunities to grow in their relationship with God, they perceived the trial to be good and not bad. Today, I found myself reading Hebrews 5:8 which talks about the obedience of Christ. Obedience is another word that I have found to be more difficult than I previously thought! Hebrews 5:8 says, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” After reading this, and studying the book of James, trials and sufferings have taken on a whole new meaning for me.
                In our study in James, James tells us to “count it all joy, brethren {or sisters} when you fall into various trials...” (James 1:2) How in the world am I to have joy when I am suffering? Paul tells us the same thing, that we are to “glory in tribulations” (Romans 5:3) Even Peter tells us that suffering and trials are good and we should be thankful and full of joy when they come. I have to wonder if the apostles weren’t a little off in the head when they wrote these encouragements to us! But, after what I learned today and what the Lord has been showing me- I am right there beside them, proclaiming that trials, sufferings and tribulations are great! In fact, we should be very happy and eager for them to come upon us! (No, I am not losing my mind, I have not gone off the deep end, bear with me)
                When trials come it means that the Lord God sees you where you are and He wants to grow you, He wants to work in you and through you. If we are never faced with trials and sufferings then we will never grow in our relationship with Him, we will not get to know Him if we do not face trials and sufferings. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ learned obedience through suffering. Now, we are not to understand this as Christ was once disobedient and learned obedience, but that He delighted in the experience of constant obedience to the Father.
                To learn means to use and to practice knowledge. You learned how to ride a bike because someone taught you and you practiced how to balance and how to use the pedals, and brakes properly. The same is for us as Christians. We learn to be Christ-like when we suffer and go through trials and tribulations. And it comes all down to how we look at the situation. We can choose to either see it as a trial and something we must suffer, or we can choose to see it as an opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. How we choose to see it- that is up to us. God does not desire us to complain and throw a fit when trials come, no, He desires us to see the trial and rejoice in the fact that He is working in us!
                In this way we begin to glorify God in every situation, and we begin to have that joy that James refers to. If I always look at a situation and see the bad first, then I am not seeing with the eyes of God, but seeing with the eyes of my sinful flesh. We are to see and to look and to receive the trial that comes upon us as good and for our good. God will not allow you to go through anything that He has not already worked out to your good. (Romans 8:28) How we look at the trial and the sufferings of this life, that is up to us.
                Christ did not look at the cross that was before Him and fear what may happen, the bible tells us that “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) Joy- He had joy when He saw the suffering and the pain that was before Him. He saw the cross before the world was made, before the foundations of the world were set into motion, and He had joy. Christ is our example of how we are to look at every situation in life. He never looked upon the cross as negative, or as a suffering trial He must face, no, He looked at the cross with eyes of purpose, hope, patience and love and He took all that joy that He had, and in obedience died for you and for me. There was nothing and no one that was going to stop Him from going through what He went through for us. And we too are supposed to see with eyes of Joy all that befalls us.
                When we stop focusing on the negative of every situation, and we begin to believe that no matter what happens, God has only what is best for you, then the facing of these trials can become joyful. They may not be pleasant and all warm fuzzes on the inside, but we can face them with joy and with hope and with patience and in complete obedience to His will for us. Christ suffered to show us what true trust and what His grace looks like. He suffered to show us godly patience and to show us what obedience is, and how we are to walk in it. Lastly, He suffered to give us hope. When we face trials and when we suffer, we who are Christians should be facing it with joy and with hope, enduring in patient obedience and eager anticipation of what the Lord God is working out in us and through us. May I never look at trials and sufferings the same again!
                Father God, I pray that we would no longer look upon the afflictions of this life as bad things happening, but that we would see with the eyes of Christ and see the joy and the hope that is set before us. You give us great and mighty grace to face all that comes upon us. May we see with your eyes and may we, with eager anticipation endure whatever it is You have prepared for us. May we bow down our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our souls to Your all knowing and all powerful hands, molding us and forming us into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. It is in His Name that we pray. Amen and Amen.