I almost feel that I “jumped the gun” in writing that post. :) Only because our pastor focused on the same verses that hit me as I was reading 1 Peter.
“In these you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6-7
He talked about how we should have exceeding joy in the things God has given us. Pastor Kim asked us what our source of gladness was. He said that it should be deeper that just being happy. He said that because we have had to suffer grief in all sorts of trials, we are to be exceedingly glad… even we are grieving, and extremely sad, we are to be joyful in the midst of our sadness.
He said that grief will come, but we don’t want to get stuck there in the self pity and grief and despair, because there is something more to live for.
These trials are for a LITTLE WHILE, a brief time here on earth, and we will have trouble in this life. But the praising that can come out of these trials is that we have hope in the inheritance God is holding for us in heaven.
Our faith is being proved.
My faith is being put to the test. My faith is undergoing the pressure, the intense heat of suffering through trials, to be purified. Is yours?
When I look back at my life and see the times that things have been going well, I can see that I was just cruising along. My faith in God was there, but I was free to do what I wanted, I could try to fill my desires with other things. I was really only concerned with myself. I am ashamed to admit it, but I was. When things started coming down on me, I really started struggling.
I wrestled with God. Yelled at Him. (Sometimes I still do!) I railed against the pain I was having to endure. I wasn’t really enduring very well. Hurt piled on top of hurt. Depression took me, and anxiety. Then thoughts from the past surfaced. The enemy weighed in with thoughts of despair and suicide. I was betrayed by people I loved. I struggled with temptation, in increasingly intense ways.
The world, the flesh, and the devil all seemed to come against me at once, and I was left dazed and unable to fight back, because my faith was only so deep. It wasn’t until I had some people weigh in on my side, stand in the gap for me, that I was able to even begin to fight. They prayed for me when I couldn’t. They lifted me and carried me, helped me along, until I could start to pray again, until I was able to turn to God on my own, until my faith started getting stronger. I had to strengthen my spiritual muscles to be able to start the process of walking in faith through the trials.
So many times I have wanted to sit down and give up. So many times I have been overcome with grief, unable to do anything other than curl up in a ball and sob… sometimes flat on my face before God.
Now I am learning that these terribly tough times I have gone through have had a purpose. I don’t fully know the purpose yet, other than I don’t know that I have had such a walk with God. I am learning that He is more than enough. In and through everything, God is enough. He has given me so much, promised so much, and He never lies, He never changes, He doesn’t betray, He doesn’t lure with false pretenses or false comfort. He IS comfort. He loves unfailingly. He never leaves me. He redeems. He calls me by my name. I am His.
I am not called to despair. I am called to hope. My hope is not dead. My hope is living… in a Living God. I am His bride. I am being built into His church. I am a part of His body.
I may be tempted to look at despair and the troubles, but there is something more.
I need to let go of my anger against God (for all the things I think He has done to me).
I need to let go of trying to fix the problems on my own.
I need to let go of trying to medicate the pain away, by any addictions or anything else.
I need to let go of wallowing in the despair.
I need to let go of my old ways of responding to difficulties.
I need to let go of the desire to run away or give up.
I need to let go of the identity I have gotten from depression and the world.
I want to grab on to the hope that is set before me, to pursue it.
I want to grab on to my Savior who loves me beyond imagining.
I want to grab on to the Word, the truth, that tells me where my hope lies.
I want to be a beacon of hope for others coming behind me.
I want to show that even in the midst of pain and trouble that God is still there, that He still loves us, that He understands, that He has gone through the trials and temptations, that He was wracked with grief and sorrow in trials too.
Somehow, as I am coming out of this, He is giving me a desire to minister. I don’t know what that will look like. I don’t know where He is drawing me. God is giving me a passion to help those who are hurting. Whether that is through speaking or writing, this blog, singing at church, further schooling to start some sort of career, I don’t know. I just know that He is still guiding me through the rest of the pain so that I am free. Free to be who my Jesus wants me to be. Free to be able to hear His voice. Free to deal with each day’s trouble as it comes, rather than getting swamped and overwhelmed.
All the things that I feel God has taken away through this purification process… all of the slag that was stuck in and around the gold… as long as I continue to cling to God and not curse Him, I know that God will bless me with even more than I had before. My faith will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed at the end.
Just like Job. He suffered, lost everything but his life. But he never cursed God… he was even encouraged to curse God and die. He didn’t. He kept his faith, even when he questioned God. At the very end, Job was blessed over and above what he ever had before.
I am not clinging to the truth, and trying to work out my faith, because of the reward coming at the end. I have a reward here and now too. It is a deeper, stronger, more powerful relationship with Jesus than I have ever had before. I am looking at where I am at. I know that things are done here yet, and that there will be other trials.
But, oh Praise God, I can see how He is working through all this! So many have told me that He is working, but now I see it with my own eyes!
Oh my God! How can I thank you enough for all you have done. I confess that I have been so angry at you for allowing all this pain into my life. I have yelled at you, fought against you, and the pain, and tried to resist it, tried to drown the pain, tried to hide and run from it. I didn’t want to admit my anger at you. It scared me that I could be angry at you, and blame you for everything that happened, yet still believe that you loved me at the same time. I couldn’t live with that contradiction, so I hid my anger.
Thank you so much for understanding my anger and pain, and how that made me lash out at you. Thank you for exposing it, to that I could acknowledge it. Thank you for holding me close, even when I was fighting to get away from you, when I thought you were the one causing me all the hurt. Thank you so much for using that pain to drive me to people who could help me see the truth of who you are. Thank you for using this grief and trial to get me into your word like never before. Thank you for showing me the joy I can have in the suffering, and that my suffering does have a purpose…. Your refining fire at work in my life.
Please continue to refine my faith. Thank you that my light and momentary troubles are are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. I will fix my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18) Help me to see everything through your eyes, and show me your will for my life. Amen!