What Comes Out

I have a friend who owned and ran a small restaurant for six years. Very hard work. He tried to sell his business for the last three of those years without success. We prayed and he sold it at 9.20am the next morning.

Other friends also have a business. They are well past being ready to retire and have been trying to sell their business for a couple of years. Their prayers seemed to be answered but the buyer dropped out. What is God doing?

The hidden God has you where you are for a reason. The bad things in life crush us to show us what we are. If good comes out, it is a fragrance that blesses and encourages everyone. If bad comes out, and we are like a lanced boil, we can still use it as a step towards obedience and healing in our lives and others. It’s better to be like the son who verbally disobeyed his father then thought better of it.

Mike Lawyer’s exhortation at ChristKirk on March 7 is encouraging:

The Bible tells us that until Jesus comes there will always be suffering. People close to us will die; as we grow older we will have to deal with impaired health; people will sin; there will be opportunities for you to become angry, battle evil desires, put up with frustrations, hide from fears, flee immorality, be confused, become defensive, suffer the cruelty of others, have interpersonal disasters, live in unstable conditions, be confronted with misery, have friends who are caught up in various kinds of substance abuse, and to be anxious about everything that the world throws at you.

The Bible also tells us that these events can be seen as opportunities to become victims, and to whine and grumble against the Lord. You are a victim. I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture of what is happening to you or to those around you. You are suffering. You are indeed a victim.

But you may be suffering the onslaught of Satan, as Job was. You may be suffering the unjust treatment of your friends as David was. Or you may even be suffering the results of your own stubbornness and rebelliousness as the Israelites did over and over again throughout the Bible.

But the Bible never leaves the people of God in the role of a victim. The Bible tells us that God places these events in our lives as tests to see if we will serve the living God or if we will rebel and run to other gods.

One Greek word is translated test, temptation and trial. What this means is that every event we encounter can be used to drive us away from God or to draw us nearer to God.

This is why James tells us that we should consider it all joy when we encounter various trials. He says that coming through the trial in a victorious way will produce steadfastness and in the end will make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Paul tells us that we are to rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

How should we suffer? How should be live in the midst of an evil generation? How shall we respond to the misery we see around us? Turn to Jesus. Jesus has gone through all the same kinds of suffering you face. He knows what you think and feel. He is our High Priest and He intercedes on our behalf to the Father of lights. Turn to Jesus. Tell Him your troubles. Ask Him to strengthen you; to give you a new heart; to bring you comfort; to lift you up.

Take a friend with you. Take two friends. Jesus went to the garden with His friends and poured out His heart to the Father and in the process offered Himself to God as a fragrant offering. “Not My will, but Thy will be done.”

When everything goes wrong and God seems to have abandoned you, three certainties remain: God will never allow you to pass through something you cannot bear; your faithfulness or unfaithfulness will influence those around you; and if you belong to Him you will come out the other side as pure gold. Untested faith is not faith.

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