Take this cup
Read this morning from Sacred Parenting, spoke to me…
Have you ever noticed that most trials come in batches and bundles? A good friend of mine watched his daughter fight off a serious infection, found out that his mother had Alzheimer’s, and then had one of the most difficult business years of any self-employed person I know.
Why do these bundles of trials seem so common?
We have only one way to become mature and complete in God: we must develop the difficult but crucial discipline of perseverance. Jesus said that only through perseverance do we bear fruit: “The seed on good soul stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by perseverance produce a crop.” Luke 8:15
James tells us that we should consider it “pure joy” when we “face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.
There’s only one way to develop perseverance. We have to surrender to God as we feel pushed past the human breaking point. We have to reach the threshold of exhaustion, and then get pushed even further. One trial can help us deal with fear. Two trials can lead to wisdom. But perseverance? That takes a bundle of difficulties.
Today’s Christian usually prays for relief, for comfort, and for healing – but that’s not always what scripture teaches us to do. For example, Paul prayed that the Colossians would be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” Colossians 1:11
Instead of immediately asking for their deliverance, Paul prayed that the believers in Colosse would grow in maturity. If you think about it, how do we grow in endurance and patience? To have both our endurance and patience sorely tested, even last the breaking point, until we learn to rest in God’s “glorious might”.
You’ll never develop your biceps if you life just one pound weights, you gave to stress the muscle beyond its normal routine. The sans principle holds true spiritually. If God gives us situations we already have the strength to handle, we won’t have to grow in order to deal with them.
The crux of the issue is this: our first and natural inclination in any trial is to pray for God to remove the difficulty. But God’s first priority is often to strengthen us in the midst of the difficulty rather than take us out of the difficulty. That’s because he can see the treasure that lies at the end of the trial.