An Opportunity to Turn Trial into Gold
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4
I chuckled when Andy Crouch posted: "Honestly hadn't planned on giving up quite this much for Lent." Social distancing, including not being able to gather for worship, Sunday school or Bible study, has made this a season of sacrifice, whether we planned to give up something for Lent or not. This, coupled with the cancellation of school and the closing of businesses not deemed "life-sustaining" poses real hardships for many. We have much to learn about how to best weather this pandemic as we monitor the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for reliable information. As a church, we have opportunity to turn this trial into gold to glorify God and further His Kingdom.
While I miss gathering as a church, the truth is the church is so much more than what takes place on Sunday morning at 1698 Woodbury Pike. You are the church; we are the church. Even sequestered in our homes, we have the internet, phones, texting and U. S. Mail to reach out to others with words of encouragement and hope as we share the love and Good News of Christ.
Such times of testing tend to squeeze out of us our most genuine selves. When we express ourselves in ways not consistent with the fruit of God's Holy Spirit, recognize that is an opportunity to draw near to God in repentant faith and learn of Him. God puts us through times of testing to purify us and to strengthen our faith. Faith is like a muscle. When it gets stressed to its limit, it actually grows stronger, not weaker. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 the Apostle Paul reflects on overwhelming affliction he experienced earlier. He writes, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Paul says “this happened” for a purpose, that God was in every grueling moment to work a larger, deeper purpose in his (our) growth to spiritual maturity.
As we remain vigilant, allow God to transform the deepest part of your being. Our fears and our flailings tend to provide a clue where we have misplaced our trust. Such work in one’s deep heart is neither easy nor quick. Allow God access to lead you into a place of profound healing, reconciliation and freedom. Then, reach out in Christ’s love to bless someone who needs a word of encouragement.
Because Christ is Lord of all,
Dave Meckley, Pastor