Friday, August 28, 2009

Trials with Benefits

I have been doing a Bible study called Beloved Unbeliever very slowly over the last year or so. It's a study for women who are married to non-Christians. I think it's a good book, and the message is basically don't preach to your husband, lead by example, pray for him, and be a good wife in every way. Pretty good advice for any wife, Christian or not.

But, as I was finishing a chapter last night, I came to a place where I had to look up verses that covered some of the benefits derived from experiencing problems. I thought that section really addressed some of what I'm going through, and I'm going to share those verses and what I got out of them here:

Romans 5:3-4
And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope...

This suffering I'm sharing with my husband has the power to change me, to make me stronger, of better character, and to fill me with hope. The next verse (v. 5) in this passage continues where v. 4 leaves off. It says: "..and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." I think most people have a hard time with the concept of hope because we've all experienced so many disappointments in life. But, here Paul is saying that real hope in God and His plan for our lives will not disappoint us. This was written to the early Christians who were cruelly persecuted for their beliefs. I may have it bad, but not that bad. So, I can embrace the hope I have in God.

James 1:2-4
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have it's full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

Once again, these challenges are instrumental in producing endurance. I guess it's like a long-distance runner. She isn't going to be able to run the distance unless she builds up her endurance with training. Doing so makes her able to run longer distances. I'm not looking to run any long distances, but in the run of life strengthening my endurance will result in my spiritual maturity. And, the commentary in my Bible includes this, "Then be patient. God will not leave you alone with your problems; He will stay close and help you grow." I am not running alone. Jesus is running right alongside me.

1 Peter 1:7
...so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor whenever Jesus Christ is revealed.

Trials refine us, make us better than we were. The commentary in my Bible says, "Likewise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions strengthen our faith and make us useful to God". Make us useful to God? Ugh! Who cares? I just want to get though this in one piece. I'm just kidding, but isn't that the way we oftentimes look at the difficulties in life? I just want to get through this! However, if I am going to have an impact in my world, I need to be useful to God. If am immature, untested, babied, etc., I will have less of an impact, if any at all, or a negative one.

It's really easy to look at our situation on the surface and curse it. Who wants this sort of thing for themselves or anyone they love? But, if I look at things through the third lens of scripture, there is a spiritual purpose for everything. I may not like it, but God can use this situation to grow me into a woman with endurance, a more Godly character, a heart filled with hope, and someone who is useful to Him.

The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials - George Muller

8 comments:

AprilMay said...

Beautiful, fabulous and oh so true! I still don't know why some people (and Christians) have more trials than others, but I chalk it up to the fact that life isn't ever fair, and how we respond to that little fact is how we will be measured in the end.

Joannah said...

April,

It all comes down to that - life isn't fair. Period. The end. This is a world in a fallen state. Therefore, we must make the best of our circumstances and let them shape us into better people. I know you know what I'm talking about!

Alex and Jill said...

Oh how I love Romans 5:3-4.

Tamara said...

Amen, my Sister, Amen!

wzgirl said...

Thank Goodness for your faith, Joannah - even as you struggle, you are such an inspiration. Sending so much love.

xo

Miah said...
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Miah said...

All my life I've been into a lot of struggles, trials.

I'm glad i've found your article. Gob Bless you.

Miah said...
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