Monday, March 20, 2017

Trials and Testing

This past 3 weeks have been full of trials
and testing with back to back issues,
sickness, discouragement, loss.
These have been a refining process from God.

Job 23:10
But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold.

During this time, I have been reminded of
God's mercy and love. I have started looking
back over some notes that I wrote over 8 years ago,
while recovering from pneumonia.
I remember reading through the book of Job,
and trying to glean wisdom through
his time of trial. I remember questioning God
and asking the 'whys' of my situation
instead of looking to the 'who'.

One of the verses that I strove to achieve was,

Philippians 4:11
Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.

A very good quote I read at the time was,
“It's not HOW can I get out of this,
but WHAT can I get out of this?”

So many times, in times of sickness,
discouragement and loss, I ask God
to remove me from the situation.
The HOW. Get me out of here, Lord!
Make me well! But, I should really be asking,
what does God want to teach me through all this?
The WHAT. What is God's eternal plan
in this time of testing?
We don't need to doubt and question God.
We need to trust Him. One of my
favourite sayings is this:

Don't doubt in the dark what you know in the light”

When everything is going well, we know God is there. We hold to his promises and thank God for the blessings. But, oh how lost we become when the darkness closes in. Our little candle flickers and all but goes out. We forget God's promises. We forget that he is still there in the darkness.
His promises still hold true,
whether on the mountaintop or in the dark valley.

God didn't answer Job's plea for death. He had something better for him. God looked beyond Job's depression, discouragement and bitterness and saw that he still had faith. So often, we should be thankful for unanswered prayer.
We often pray for things that
we would later regret if God had granted them.

God understands all about it,
and lovingly turns a deaf ear to our words,
but a tender eye to our wounds”

So, what can I get out of this? Well, I believe that recently I have been on a mountaintop, and that means, LOOK OUT! There's a valley somewhere below. It is encouraging to me that God sees me as special enough to send trials. He sees me as someone worth refining. He wants to purify me and see me “come forth as gold”. I am not just something
to be cast in the fire.

So, maybe like Job, God is allowing Satan
to afflict me in order to test my faith.
(Not because of any perfection on my part)
Remember, Satan only has the power to
touch us if God allows it.

Job 1:12
And the LORD said unto Satan,
Behold, all that he hath is in thy power;
only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

And a comforting verse is found in

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you
but such as is common to man:
but God is faithful, who will not suffer you
to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make
a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God will make a way of escape. Often that 'way of escape' doesn't come as soon as we'd like. But God sees the bigger picture. He knows the limitations to our faith. He knows our weaknesses. God knows us better than we know ourselves, so He is so much better able to bring the trials and end the trials.
All in His perfect time.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life,
which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

So our response to trials is important. How many times does God have to repeat a trial because we were too thick to learn the first time?
(I have both arms raised) Hmmm.

I was reading recently of a common theme that runs through a lot of the Psalms. Often we see at the beginning of the Psalm, David is on his face in pity. Then, he is on his knees in prayer. Then he is on his feet in praise! Do you see the upward progression?
Face. Knees. Feet!

Oh, if we could only grasp this concept! The trial is hard and I'm on my face before God and moaning and complaining about my circumstance, then I get on my knees in prayer and realise the need for God to work and purify and intervene and then I rise to my feet and shout, PRAISE GOD!
And thank Him for the trial he sent.

I don't always manage to shout PRAISE GOD! at the end of a trial, but it's definitely a goal to shoot for every time. And a good reminder to me to remember who is in control of every situation. Refining. Purifying. Cleansing. To be more like Christ.

Many years ago, I came across this song and it is always in my mind when I'm going through a trial. Learning to thank God for the trials that come your way is a sign of growth.

I Thank You Lord
For the trials that come my way
In that way I can grow each day
As I let You lead
And I thank You Lord
For the patience those trials bring
In that process of growing
I can learn to care


But it goes against the way I am
To put my human nature down
And let the Spirit take control of all I do
‘Cause when those trials come
My human nature shouts the things to do
And God’s soft prompting can be easily ignored

Verse 2
I thank you, Lord,
with each trial I feel inside,
that you're there to help,
lead and guide me away from wrong.
'Cause you promised, Lord,
that with every testing,
that your way of escaping is easier to bear.

Verse 3
I thank you, Lord,
for the victory that growing brings.
In surrender of everything
life is so worth while.
And I thank you, Lord,
that when everything's put in place,
out in front I can see your face,
and it's there you belong.