Friday, April 02, 2010

Foundation #8 - Trials are an essential part of life

There are few things in my life that I dread - most of them center around trials that I face; the hardships of life that are caused by my sinfulness, the sinfulness of others or just by the sin in the world. I hate them; they are uncomfortable, they are "hard" (hence the title; duh), they cause pain in my life and in the lives of those around me.

James tells us to count it all joy when you fall into the trials of life (James 1:2). I really don't like this verse; in fact I really don't like this verse at all. It violates something that I feel deep down in me. Everything within my being tells me to run away from trials; avoid them at all costs. James tells me to embrace trials when they come. This is TOTALLY counter intuitive to what I think and feel.

Why? Why should I embrace the pain, the hardship, the junk that comes along with trials? James addresses this too: the testing of our faith works patience; the working of patience forms us into a mature, complete person (James 1:4).

There are only two options for me when I face trials: run from them or embrace them.

Running, running away to escape the pain, can take on many forms. My favorites are buying something - usually something related to computers or electronics - which temporarily distracts me from the pain, or watching old movies about WWII. Other, more extreme escapes are drugs or alcohol that temporarily mask the pain in the soul. The problem with all these forms of escape is that they on temporarily remove the pain and, worse yet, they short circuit the process that trials are supposed to work in me. After a while, our escapes don't work anymore and we must practice our escape more and more to get the same affect or move to a new one. (There is a whole lot that can be written about this one.....we have all seen the affects of an escape mechanism gone awry.)

When trials come my way, I MUST embrace them; walk through them, ask God what I am supposed to learn (James 1:5), look for what God is trying to teach me through it. All trials come to teach me something about me that needs to be rooted out (e.g. a sin pattern) or strengthened (e.g. my faith in what God is doing in me).

I HAVE to walk THROUGH trials; not around them.

Principles so far:
#1 You reap what you sow
#2 God is good all the time
#3 Fruit of the Spirit is the yardstick
#4 Forgiveness is a key to unlocking spiritual growth
#5 Love God, love people
#6 The heart is revealed by what someone says or does
#7 Worrying accomplishes nothing

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