Suffering Series, Part Three: Allowing Jesus into the Situation
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” (James 1:2-5, MSG)
Over the past two weeks, we’ve been driving the point home that your personal trials are about so much more than just you. They are about maturing and equipping you to reach someone who will need the truth tempered in you through these spiritual growing pains. They are about showing the real substance of your faith so that someone can be encouraged by the genuine worship and nature of your love for the Lord. But this week, as we come to a close, I want to zero in on you.
How does suffering improve your relationship with Jesus?
It’s probably the most obvious statement in the world, but hard times tend to drive us to the feet of Jesus. Tough days are oftentimes the ones where our prayer life is more rich and constant. Personal tragedies are the most likely events to send us down a path to seeking the Lord, questioning Him in a way where we are relentless and vigilant enough to find Him.
Why is that?
Why does our inner turmoil make us more curious about the character of God? Why do our emotional storms drive us to search Him out or cling to Him a little tighter?
It’s simple: because we need Him most on those days. In our imperfect nature, we desire to understand why a God who loves us would allow us to have dark and twisty days. Today, you need to know, dear friend, God has perspective that we will never have and He knows just what it will take for us to learn lessons that will really stick. He knows we’re all procrastinators to some degree. He knows that head knowledge and heart knowledge are two wildly different processes.
So you know that God loves you and that He will protect you from your enemies? It’s easy to stand up and declare that when your enemies are all hypothetical and hidden from view. But what about when they surround you, all poised to take your joy, your future, and your countenance? Head knowledge is gained from reading something and understanding it to be true. Heart knowledge is earned from applying it to your life and knowing it to be true.
So yes, we praise Jesus in the victory and the bright spots, but first, we need to learn to lean back on Him in the trial. We need to actually hide ourselves in Him while we walk through the valley. We need to open our communication with the Father and allow Him into our struggle. We need to see for ourselves and experience Him in His fullness.
That’s best seen and understood when there is no person on the planet who is available to hold you up. It’s best proven when everything else drives us to trust Him.
And the most beautiful thing about that is when you need Jesus, He is never one to throw your weakness in your face. He doesn’t keep an itemized list of all the days you dropped the ball and skipped your devotion time. He doesn’t keep score.
Instead, He forgives us for being fickle and inconsistent. He rolls up his sleeves and gets down on our level– never leaving us to struggle alone. He offers us comfort and teaches us what we need to learn in order to pick up and carry on. He reveals more of His beautiful character and shows us how to be more like Him.
So yes, the days you are going through a trial are difficult and harrowing at times. But they are designed to push you straight into Jesus’ arms and train you to be more like Him. They put you directly in the path of Jesus’ love and mercy.
Don’t shy away from your personal suffering. Instead, lean back on Jesus and allow Him to lead you through it.