Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Guest post submitted by whateverstate
How has your 2008 been? Mine had its good points (fun with the last baby of the family; a memorable trip to Peru; my son accepted Christ as Savior and was baptized) and low points (David had mono; gas was prohibitively expensive; the baby severed his finger). All in all, I wouldn't want to live this year again. There are some trials you only want to have once.
While looking over my prayer list the other day, I realized 2008 hasn't been a stellar year for many of my loved ones. One watched her husband walk out on her and her preschool-aged son. One is watching her husband die of cancer as she cares for their 9 children. Some have lost family members, jobs, fortunes, and homes. A church lost a pastor; a mother, her baby; a husband, his legs.
Next, I thought of the burdens I carried around without telling others. Things our family bore alone, requests my husband and I could not share with the world. These were perhaps the most difficult trials of the year – the lonely kind . If I bore them, would not other's bear such loads, as well? The tears, the hurts, the worries, the fears that cannot be told, cannot be whispered, cannot be shared, these cannot be unique. We all have some.
I know that a prayer my husband had for me this year was that I learn to bear these burdens in God's strength. That seemed to be our Lord's lesson for me this year, as I look back to take stock on the past 12 months. My journal is full of prayers for deliverance, earnest seeking for the answer why, and anguished wrestlings with the Holy One over the nature and purpose of sufferings public and private. Here are some truths He has taught me this year, which I hope I will remember in the trials to come.
There hath no trial take you but such as is common to man; But God is faithful, Who not permit you to be tried above that ye are able, But will, with the trial, make the way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
1. My outlook on my trials, my perspective on this present suffering, does impact my goings through my trial.
If I am dreading any task, hating it's every detail – like cleaning the house – then it seems to take forever before it is done, right? But, if I clean cheerfully, doing my best for the Lord, the nasty jobs are soon finished, and I'll look back on a job well done. In the same way, I am learning that God wants me to change my attitude toward the trials he puts in my life. He is building faith, patience, and long-suffering in me and will thereby perfect me more like the image of His Son (James 1:3). My own proper perspective will allow the Spirit to have free reign to change me and the trial will thus seem lighter, faster.
So, I must guard against developing a victim mentality. These are not just bad things that happen to me, circumstances which may destroy or maim me. God does not want me to just "endure it" or "make it through somehow." These are themselves precious gifts of God, the real things that will endure forever, and I am to use them to bring glory to His Name (I Peter 1:7)!
Thus, what I really need is a "renewed mind" about trials (Romans 12:2). I need God's viewpoint on them, not mine. I need to get rid of my fleshly, "human," natural thinking about these "bad things" happening to me, and replace them with God's thoughts, God's view, God's Word.
2. I never go through any trial or difficulty that is unique; someone has lived victoriously through that trial before.
This is the first thing God reminds me in I Corinthians 10:13, because that gives great hope and perspective. Hope, because if someone has done it before, I know it can be done again. Perspective, because it brings my mind and emotions out of the dark hole of loneliness and depression to face the reality of other's needs besides my own. How can I remain so self-centered as to think I am the only person ever to have walked this road before? Mine cannot be worse than any other woman's burden EVER. Even Solomon said over and over "there is nothing new under the sun." I need to change my perspective on myself during trials.
3. I can depend on My God during trials.
"God is faithful." He doesn't change when my circumstances do. There were times this year when I felt I had no person to lean on, no one to call, no one who understood. I forgot in those moments "Thou God seest me." There are times when there is none to help, but never a time when He is not there.
For we have not an high priest Who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tested like as we are yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
I love this verse, especially that word feeling. I am told by those who know Greek that it refers to literal emotion, the actual anguish we go through. I cannot make my husband, my neighbor, my friend understand how I feel during my hour of deepest sorrow or pain, but my God feels it. He is touched by my tears and will feel the anguish of my soul Himself.
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tested, He is able to help them that are tested. Hebrews 2:18
Oh, the comfort of talking to someone who really knows what I'm going through, who can cry and laugh and nod at all the right times and understand just what I am saying and meaning to say. My God is such a Friend, and more so. Since He feels the pain and suffering of the trial Himself, He can help mightily in ways no human friend could attempt.
4. God will never allow my trials to grow larger than I can bear.
Each one is tailor-made for me, for my good. God knows my spiritual strength, my faith, my capabilities. He will bring what I can take when I can take it, and nothing more. He has pity on me. He remembers my frame; he remembers I am just dust (Ps 103:13-14). He will not tax this body and soul beyond the breaking point; but He will give me what I need, be it strength, grace, or release from the trial. "He knows the way that I take."
5. God knows that at some point, I need an escape route, and exit door.
Even running Christmas errands with my children last Saturday, I could not wait to walk out the crowded Wal-Mart door and put the hectic bustle behind me. More so in my trials, I need to remember there is an exit door through which I will pass just as surely as I am currently passing through the present trial. God will not let this go on forever and ever. There is an end.
These are some of the ways God wants me to renew my mind concerning trials. Each difficulty I face, I must maintain the proper perspective. Others have lived victoriously through this particular trial before – and I can, too! God will faithfully sustain me even emotionally for the duration of my suffering. My particular trial is custom-designed taking my capabilities and stamina into account. And it will end. All will end.
It will be worth it all,
When we see Jesus!
Life's trials will seem so small -
When we see Him.
One glimpse of His dear Face,
All sorrows will erase.
So bravely run the race,
Till we see Christ!
How has your 2008 been?