“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
It may seem like AFFLICTION or PAIN is your middle name, but thank goodness it isn’t DESPAIR or FORSAKEN.
Difficult times will often cause Christians to look up to the heavens and question whether God has forgotten the frailty of all mankind. Graciously, God forgives such moments of arrogance, and yet He must be saddened by our lack of faith. We injure our Lord when we question His love for us, forgetting the cross His Son endured for our sakes.
From the dust of the earth He made Adam, and He will never forget how His hands formed us. He knows what each one of His children can manage. We may be afflicted on all fronts, but it is not His desire to see us crushed beyond repair. God is waiting for us at the finish line of our spiritual journey. He longs for the day when we have finish the race set before us, the one He predestined us to run.
Isaiah 42:3 describes Jesus as “a reed bruised but not broken.” However, we are not the sinless Son of man, so there may be a need for some brokenness in our lives. The necessary breaking I speak of would be the self-reliance and self-will we humans stubbornly cling to, and claim as our right to practice. This attitude is not aligned with God’s desire and design for us. He wants us to rely on Him for everything. He is the great provider, Jehovah Jireh. He freely gives us wisdom, strength, love, hope, and all good things. All we have to do is send up our prayer request in faith, without doubting, and it will be given with His blessings and love.
Painful situations and circumstances may have you perplexed. Confusion is not our Lord’s intention. Therefore, we are to petition our God when such moments arise and ask for direction, wisdom, guidance, and revelation answers to our questions. It will do you no good to pretend you are an ostrich by sticking your head in a hole and hoping life will correct itself, without any effort on your part.
Our life on earth is a race. All races require effort and active participation. In fact, our spiritual race is an obstacle race. We must hurdle roadblocks, landmines, and encumbrances of many kinds. Although runners may trip and fall, they get back up in order to cross the finish line. They can’t get discouraged and throw in the towel, if they want the reward and prize found at the finish line. They must endure the discomfort of the race in order to claim their prize. We too, when struck down by trials and suffering, must keep our eyes on our prize, Eternal life with God!
Our salvation is a free gift, given by grace through our predestined faith in God. However, our maturity in Christ comes with a cost. The sanctification process is what requires our effort and attention. We will all be heated in the fiery furnace of afflictions and trials. This is how our sin rises to the surface and catches our attention. With the gift of free will, we can choose to repent and cast off our exposed sin, or we can choose to acknowledge its existence and allow it to remain in our hearts. Ignoring sin and allowing it to remain in our lives will slow down or even stop the sanctification process.
Each one of us has a specific race to run. We have been given the freedom to run our course however we choose. Our pace, how many times we trip, and whether we stay down and let others pass us by will determine what we take with us into the Kingdom of God. With each struggle there are lessons to learn and wisdom to attain. If we sit and remain down after a fall, we will have fewer opportunities to learn the many mysteries God hopes to share with His children.
“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice.” Isaiah 42:3 (NIV)