Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why God? Why?

After my last post, the Lord flooded me with things to share. I was in His Word, and of course, I saw SO many things on which to write. I scribbled my thoughts on the closest square of paper because it is true that the memory fails us with age...mid thirties even. For some reason, this has also been a stipulation of my ability to write. If I have thoughts, whether it's on a piece for my blog or in the past when I've wanted to express things to friends, family, or loved ones, I must get my initial thoughts on paper and then I can finish it up later. Strange but true. I've decided to follow through with what God knows we all endure...suffering and testing!

Someone has said, "God never uses anyone unless He puts them through the test of suffering and pain." Doesn't that just make you flinch? Ugg...suffering and pain is sooo not fun. It is scary and very difficult. But, read it again...don't you want to be used by God? We don't like to be "used" by fellow humans but oh to be used by God...that's the ultimate! So, instead of turning from the suffering of a trial, we must take up our cross and follow Jesus. We must be willing to say "Do with me whatever You may. Your will be done with me." Take up your Cross...what does that mean? Remember, Jesus was not only crucified and tortured on the Cross but He had to carry His own Cross. If you've seen "Passion of the Christ", you know how horrific carrying the Cross was. (By the way, I believe every Christian should watch the Passion...it will totally change and/or enhance your view of Jesus' sacrifice...mmm what love.)

We have to carry our crosses just as Jesus did. God will not take the suffering from us. If He did, He would be removing the opportunity for us to become more like His Son. Yes, it IS an opportunity! We must endure emotionally what Christ endured physically. (Our suffering may be of a physical nature but I find so many times it's of an emotional nature.) So, God will not remove our suffering, what will He do? He will enable us to endure with His strength. He will provide the grace we need to see us through the trial...not around it but through it. Once we have gone through the trial, He will turn our test into a testimony. What greater reward than to have an outstanding testimony for God...the Savior who died for us all!! What does a testimony provide? It provides an opportunity: 1) to praise God for seeing you through it, 2) to relate to Jesus' suffering on a much smaller scale, 3) to console others enduring the same fire, 4) to testify for the development of your character.

I'm sure you all know what James says about suffering. It is one of my favorites. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2). I know you are asking "how"? That's a good question. We've discussed this several times in Bible study and it is a hard concept to grasp. However, James tells us in verse 3 how we can do this..."because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." As I reflect on my own suffering, to be able to grasp and fully appreciate what James is telling us to do - "consider it pure JOY" - I must focus on what good has come from my suffering. I reflect on the character He has built in me, the ever so close walk I have with Jesus, the stamina and strength He's providing me, the patience I have acquired. The list goes on and on. What Jesus has done in me and hopefully through me is worth any cost. That's still hard to say but it does get easier. I would trade the world to turn back time and not have the suffering of my current trial but since that can't be done I know what the Lord's done in me. I consider THAT pure joy because I know regardless of my deep pain of suffering, I know I have the Father ever so close to me. It's not an easy road but it is a safe and secure road with Jesus. My hope is in Christ and His power to continue to make good out of my suffering. I believe He will fulfill what He's said and promised to me in His timing and in His way. That too is how we consider it pure joy!

Imagine also how many people you can reach through your suffering. You never know who is watching and what they will take from your suffering. They very well may decide to take your Jesus that you are so committed to even though you are suffering so deep. Now, isn't your suffering worth that...to see one more soul saved by grace because of YOU, your testing, and what becomes your testimony!

This was supposed to be a short posting. When the Spirit speaks, He speaks. Or maybe I'm dragging it out because I love being close to Him while I write. (smiles). Let me leave you with some powerful scriptures.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

The fire refines us to the image of God. I'm sure you've all read the email that's circulated for years on the Refiner's Fire. I'll post that sometime as it is one of my all time favorites. When you think your life is bad and your suffering is too much, think of Job and what all he endured. Not only that, ponder on his reward for staying faithful to God. He received back twice everything he had.

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15

I used to have a not so positive view of the Psalms because some of it is hard to understand. However, I find myself coming across so many great Psalms thinking "oh that's a good one, oh that's good too."

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law. Psalm 119:50-51

Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. Psalm 119:153-154

If I may quickly point out here a common factor just in these two verses...we must not turn from God's law...We MUST be in His Word to adhere to His laws and be obedient to Him. Here's a great verse. Vs 8 instructs us on His Word and vs 9 encourages to be strong and reminds us of His presence EVERYWHERE with us.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:8-9

Be Blessed In Him,

11 comments:

MrsJoeB said...

Amy-I posted "The stones that had caused me to stumble in life were the very ones that were also building my character and my destiny" by ~Tracie Miles, from her book Reinventing Your Rainbow. Our suffering is what builds character and is part of that refining process to get us where HE wants us. Only in looking at it that way can we live in it. Continue to be used of God!!

In His Graces~Pamela

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Truly, I was reflecting on James' words just this morning. I read it with fresh vision and began to think about this "joy" in trials and all that encompasses such an embrace. The part that really spoke to me was the "perfecting" and "completing" nature of trials...that through our perseverance, God is working something in me that will lead me on to perfection.

I don't want to lack anything within my spiritual nature. I want to press on and see actual change and growth in my walk with Jesus. So trials? They are FOR me because they are shaping me for a closer walk...a deeper faith...and a tighter grip with the hands that formed me.

How I love my Savior! Thank you for sharing your heart.

peace~elaine

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I'm so glad you caught that!!!! I wonder how many e-mails I've missed because of it! When I got a new blog, my designer put in my email info. She left out the "2." So the correct email is...

eolsen2@nc.rr.com

Whew...thanks for letting me know. Please email again!

Kristen said...

Paula,
I happened upon your blog while reading Elaine's blog...

Oh how my trials have "grown" my faith. What joy it is while enduring a trial that we can turn our face heavenward and praise Him! Even in the storms of life. With all the sadness and suffering in this world, I believe we can be more of a witness for Christ by what He has done for us in our suffering! Sometimes He refines us by fire - but we will not be burned, He is in that furnace with us!

PS: I also noticed your profile says you are from Indiana... so hello from a fellow Hoosier!

MrsJoeB said...

Ok-I am confused...are you Paula or Amy? My apoloqies if I got your name wrong!! Ouch! Thank you for replying today to my STRESS!!! As I wait for IT to see if they can salvage my work files onto a temporary file, the thought did occur to me that maybe God is saying I need not to be so dependednt on that computer. It does take up too much of my time...I am listening Lord.
One thing my husband and I have learned is how amazing tithing is and some months we do not understand how the finances work out but they do (not on our paper)-we remain faithful to God in this because we have experienced His goodness way to many times not to.
Thank you for being a blessing to me today. I appreciate your words of comfort and your prayers!!

MrsJoeB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sharon said...

Hey Paula,

Your blog is absolutely wonderful, please forgive me I know For a couple of days I was going from blog to blog to read, and I must of forgotten to say hi, to let you know I was here! My Bad!! But I know you already have forgiven me. I have thoroughly enjoyed all your writings and comments on the studies, wow I have learned so much from you and everyone, I know my walk, My attitude, when I talk to others about Christ they can see me changing. So many have already made mention... You sound like me I want moreeeee, & moreee

But your writings please keep it up, When I am waiting for Rachel to either assign us to another study or waiting for her discussion I go through and see who's got what new on there blog.
It's just so cool! Thank you very much for visiting mine, I haven't posted lately on mine, but i will one day."One Day at A Time"
I am truly greatful to have met you and the other ladies here.

You are Awesome, Keep Writing!
Love
Sharon

sharon said...

Yesssssss Passion of the Christ, affected me as well, and I agree with you, Those that hadn't seen it really should. It was hard,no wait let me re-phrase that, I could not watch the beating part, I listened and cried my heart out, I wanted to jump in the tv to help him, to beat those men that were doing that to him. but yes again your writings are wonderful spoken from your heart.

Looking forward to the next one
Love, sharon

My cup runneth over... said...

Paula,
Wow! I've only read one post and can already tell this will be a frequent stop for me. Such a powerful message today! Thank you for stopping by my blog and for the invitation to visit yours. When I have more time to do a little further reading, I'll be back. = )

Blessings,
Tracy

Plant Lady said...

Paula,
I just dropped by to say hello. I've been trying to catch up since my trip and I didn't realize I was so far behind. It takes a lot of reading because I have so many new friends that have blogs.

Thanks for this post. Sometimes it is hard to understand why we may face the trials that we do, but it is important to remember that trials only increase our faith and brings us closer to God. I feel the closest to God when I am faced with disaster but those times "grow" me to be closer to Him in the "good times." It's so easy to take your eyes off God when things are going well, you kind of start depending on yourself instead of God, a deception from the master of deception, Satan. My prayer is to keep my focus on God ALL the time, not just in the trials in the valley, but in the joy on the mountain top.

Keep up these posts. I'm enjoying them although I may not comment each time.

God Bless,
Plant Lady

Mary said...

I add my thanks with others for your post on "Why God? Why?"
Regardless of our age or how many "trials" we have had there is so much more to learn. Each exprience is different. And there will always be need for "pruning" in our lives.

Not only can our lives glorify God in suffering but we learn so much through suffering and sorrow.

I don't know who wrote the following poem but I memorized it many years ago.

"I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

"I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
when sorrow walked with me."

mary