Sunday, January 21, 2018

Trials, Hardships and "Even ifs"

This morning we had a missionary come speak at church. He spoke on how God uses hardship and conflict to accomplish His will. The main text was Acts 15 and 16 (I encourage you to look up these passages. They're worth it.) In these two chapters are five examples of undesirable situations that preceded the furtherance of the Gospel. God used those less than spectacular events and people to do His will. Pretty awesome in the truest sense of the word.

A Much Needed Reminder

At the end, the missionary asked us if we ask God to remove hardship from our lives. Do we ask to be changed to be more like him through the things that happen to us?

I needed to be asked this. I so easily get wild-eyed and lost in the forest of "what ifs" when something difficult comes down the pike. In the past, we've talked about how I tend to be reactionary instead of acting. There is a difference. My reactions tend to set me up to become instantly paralyzed with fear of the unknown or making the wrong decision.



Having an Eternal Perspective

 If I can just remember to keep the end goal in sight, to become more Christ-like, then I believe my fear of what could happen will less often result in the deer-in-the-headlights look. Unfortunately, deer
caught in our headlights often don't move and end up getting hit, right?

Not a great way to go out, may I add. There is usually a mangled mess and no one wants to be in the middle of that.  Least of all the deer.

Anyway . . .

Does my crying out, asking Him to remove the tough stuff, end up short-circuiting my desire to become more Christ-like? And how does that affect my ability to participate in the spreading of the Gospel? Food for thought, surely. There is a struggle there when I think about trials with that perspective. I don't want to go through trials, but I do want to become more like my Savior. I don't want physical limitations to curb my lifestyle, but does asking God to remove those undermine my wanting to learn dependency on the Creator of the Universe? I don't want heartache, but would I cry out to Him as often as I need to if I didn't experience it? Am I not doing my part in telling others about the Good News?

A Conundrum and the Result


 It's a difficult riddle-like problem to answer. So, what do we do, then?

The missionary wasn't suggesting to not ask for God to heal us, to comfort us, to make changes in our circumstance. Rather he was suggesting that we make a purposeful effort to allow God to change us to be more like Him when God doesn't remove the hardship. It's what is sometimes referred to as the "even if."

"Even if God doesn't take away my heartache, I will serve Him anyway."
"Even if" God doesn't restore my relationship with my child, I will honor Him.
"Even if" God allows cancer to eviscerate my body, I will praise Him.

Even if . . . Even if . . . Even if

The commitment to serve, obey, honor and praise is better made before we are in the messy midst of it. It's not something to be taken lightly, certainly. But if we are serious about our relationship with Him, it's something to work toward in our journey to becoming more like Him. And just as importantly, to participate more fully in telling others about their need for a Savior.

Won't you consider this commitment? Won't you determine to put this into practice?

Joyfully and prayerfully committed,

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