Last week, in our Fundamentals of the Faith class, I found myself extemporaneously expositing the following thought:
"I believe that God, in His compassionate dealings with those whom He loves, sometimes allows trials to come to the ones He finds especially submitted to His will, who are eager to discover what path He has laid out for them.
"I believe that often, were we to hear Him, His voice would say, 'I have, indeed, planned great things for you. There is yet, howerever, something more for you to learn. Your pride is ever before you, and thus you must learn to depend solely on my supply.' "
I believe that God allows trials into our lives for the express purpose of teaching us to look solely to Him for provision instead of depending on our own strength. Only then, having learned the habit of seeking His provision, will we be adept at seeking His will for ourselves. Only then will we be useful to Him. Only then will we be fit for work in His kingdom.
Looking back over the years, at my own walk with Christ, I have seen a pattern begin to emerge. On numerous occasions God has gotten breakthroughs in my character, usually in the wake of a time of considerable trial. But then, after the breakthrough comes, and I sigh in relief, knowing the solution to my dilemma, the dilemma reemerges, or another one of similar flavor crops up right behind it. In general, I have not had the following oft-portrayed idyllic experience:
- I have problems in my life.
- Someone says, or I say to myself a variant of:
● "Come to Christ, and all your problems will be solved."
● "Turn your problems over to God, and He will carry your burden."
● "Lay your burdens at the cross, and then life will be easy and happy."
- I submit my will to God, renounce all rebellious attitudes, repent of the sins I know about.
- God repairs my life, and everything is great. My problems are gone.
I would that it were so simple, wouldn't you?!
But it's not, and we all know that, don't we?
I will bore you briefly with a recent personal experience. Not long ago, God worked a significant miracle in my life. Details aside, trust me: this was a biggie; serious miracle stuff here. Needless to say, there was much thanksgiving and praise. But then, over the ensuing weeks, I experienced what I later figured out was a bout of depression, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since my late teen years. I now recognize it as spiritual warfare, for the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whomever he might devour, and he hates to see people's faith in God increase. And Satan knows the hooks in our souls, and how to use them to distract us; to take our eyes off our Lord and Savior.
And God sometimes allows it, because He knows we will learn something. And I am learning. Thank you, Lord.
So when I find myself asking why life isn't a bed of roses, I am reminded that I'm asking the wrong question; I'm really just complaining, and it's time to look forward and get on with life. Because I already know the answer:
- I'm not in heaven yet.
- There is still more for me to learn.