Monday, December 5, 2011

Resist the Resistance

1Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I recently got into an online discussion with someone about that verse.  His statement was that we really aren’t supposed to be thankful for our trials, but the fact that God is present with us.  I responded that I didn’t think that God expected us to look forward to trials, but that He did want us to look for Him in the trials.  What I never realized was that we were both saying the same thing in different ways.  And, worse, how narrow and limited that statement is in human viewpoint.  Take a look at what I mean.

We say that nothing can happen unless God allows it.  Doesn’t that include trials?  We say that God loves us and uses our circumstances to help us grow and bless us.  Doesn’t that include trials?  We say that all our circumstances are intended to draw us closer to God.  Doesn’t that include trials?  Look at what 1Peter 1:6-7 says, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”.  Interesting, isn’t it?

It’s the trials that help us to grow.  The thought crosses my mind that we deny God in several ways by not being thankful for our trials.  Since they’re allowed by God, we’re saying that we know better than He does what we need.  When the Word tells us that it’s for our own benefit, we’re saying that God is a liar for saying that.  And, we are saying that we don’t need the trials.  All of which sounds like we have a large supply of pride and arrogance.  Maybe.  But also possibly just a lack of understanding.

The title of today’s post comes from something our founding pastor taught.  The particular sermon dealt with resisting the devil, temptations and trials.  Resist the resistance to our walk with God.  In The Maxwell Daily Reader, John Maxwell gives a couple of interesting examples of the necessity of trials and resistance to fully function.  Consider a powerboat.  The water it’s in resists forward motion.  But without that very resistance, the engine propellers would have nothing to push against to create forward motion.  The same with an eagle.  If there were no air resistance, an eagle could never fly.  The reading suggests that the resistance is the very reason for success.  Without the problems, there would be no need for a solution to make us successful.

Think about 1Peter 5:8-9.  It tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”  We’re not alone in experiencing trials.  But there’s a difference for believers from how the rest of the world reacts. 
  1. We have the Word to guide us through the turmoil. 
  2. We know that problems are allowed by God so that our spiritual muscles don’t grow flabby from disuse.
  3. We know that, if we pay attention, we’ll be better after the trial than we were before it.
  4. We know that trials are intended to draw us closer to God.  And
  5. we know that God loves us, so all circumstances are for our benefit and to bless us.
Having said those things, are we expected to jump right into that attitude?  I doubt it.  God knows the flesh that the trials are intended to eradicate isn’t going to be very thrilled with the process.  And our limited understanding isn’t going to see the wonders of our growth as much as it focuses on the discomfort of the present circumstances.  At the moment, we’re not likely to revel in our tests.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t aim at becoming thankful for the trials themselves.  Because they’re God’s presents to us to help us grow.

For the moment, whether it’s health or finances or relationships or whatever, we need to look for God in the circumstances and be glad He’s there with us.  Spend time in His Word and with Him.  And let Him help us grow, through whatever our lives bring our way.  With that outlook, we’ll grow into proper thankfulness for everything God includes in our experience.

What portion of scripture is helping you in that direction?

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