Monday, January 25, 2010

Faith That’s Worth More than Gold

"In this 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 even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an in expressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:6-9

Trials come in many different forms. They can be difficult circumstances, illnesses, injuries, financial set backs, broken families, painful relationships. A trial can even be the people we deal with on a regular basis that tend to make life more difficult than it has to be – a overly demanding boss, a overly ambitious co-worker, a highly critical teacher, a gossipy friend, or just a grumpy store clerk. Trials can also be temptations, losses, or persecution. Some trials may be of our own making when we wrestle with God's will or are disobedient and end up suffering the consequences for our choices. When I volunteered in the youth ministry girls often called or wrote and asked me to pray for them as they went through trials. Other girls I know were hurting a lot and going through tremendous trial, but never told anyone. These were the ones whose hearts I wanted God to etch the above verses on. Because of their silence they won't have any one hold them and whisper these verses into their hearts.

Notice that no matter how difficult the trial is God desires us to rejoice when we go through it. I know in my own life trials are seldom spread out so I can face them one at a time. They seem to come in clusters. Somebody once asked me what was going on in my life and when I told him everything, both good and bad, he let out a slow whistle and said, "That's unreal!" I can handle quite a bit, but there is always a point that I begin to question what God is doing and wondering if He truly has my best interest at heart and each time I wrestle with my questions, I gain a deeper faith in Him, but it is hard. With each batch of trials I find I am able to handle more than before. I don’t doubt God with the first trial now…it is probably when He allows either a really long trial or ten little ones all at once.

Peter says that our faith, when tried, is more precious than pure gold and that it will bring praise and honor and glory to Christ when He returns! I sometimes fail to rejoice and forget in the moment that faith purified by trials honors Him. It helps me when I remember Christ also suffered trials. Trials aren't easy – in Christ's suffering we don't see Him laughing. He hurt. He asked friends to pray with Him, and cried out to His Father. When our sin was laid on Him and He was suffering for our sake, He cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?" He endured painful suffering with hope for the future, while He was fully exposed in His humanity.

Sometimes when a trial begins I feel little twinges of expectation because I know it is an opportunity to walk closer with the Lord and that I will grow through it. At other times, when the trials come in droves I find myself looking to relieve the stress of the trial. After looking at these verses, I long to look at trials God's way…with renewed interest and trust in the One who suffered for me!

Are you in the middle of a long slow trial that feels like it will never end? Are your trials piling on top of one another? Maybe you have had really tough day – maybe you had a lot of tests at school, maybe you don’t’ feel good, maybe your parents are fighting, maybe your grandfather is sick, maybe your best friend took your boy friend, maybe a friend betrayed you, maybe your husband neglected you, or maybe your children are sick. Christ knows it all and He will walk you through it if you look to Him. Are you experiencing trials that come with being the only Christian in your home? Christ knows you long for your family to understand your hunger and thirst for God and to want Him that way, too. He wants you to know it is because He put you in the family that He did so you would crave HIM like you do. That longing hurts, but it draws you to Him and has the greatest potential for deep satisfying intimacy. If it were easy for you to enjoy Him, you wouldn't need Him so badly. Remember when there is a lot of pain, faith has the chance to shine bright. Jesus doesn't take what you are going through for granted, He delights in your trust. When He returns to earth and looks into your eyes and wipes away your tears He will remember every tear you shed, and every tear you needed to shed and couldn't. He knows you have trusted Him even when you couldn’t feel His presence. He knows you have trusted Him when it hurt to do so. He knows you trusted Him when you were lonely, stressed, or misunderstood. He promises not to give you more than you can handle with HIM…but handling is trusting...will you trust HIM?

Prayer: Father, I would never want to heap guilt on someone going through a trial for doubting You. For it is in the doubting that our faith is matured. It is my prayer that Your word and my thoughts would speak encouragement into each heart. Help each of us to see You in the middle of the trials that we face. Give us complete freedom to pour our hearts out to You and strengthen our faith to trust You even more. Please replace our anxious thoughts with Your joy and Your peace. You are our ROCK. Please help us to stand firmly in YOU! Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!