Yesterday, we saw that our best life isn’t here. We live as people with hope for today as well as hope for the future, but what happens when life happens? Even though I know I have hope and I know Who is my hope, what do I do when trials stand in front of me and hardship washes over me?
Now if we are talking about my body’s natural flight or fight response – I go into wartime mode, but that wartime mentality pushes me to isolate myself as well. I’ve spent a lifetime of living a life that very few have experienced. Few people know the lower back spasms that follow me to bed because I have to use my core muscles for almost every daily action. Few experience the public circus that follows me around when I go into public – the stares, the comments, the subtle attempts at taking a picture of me with iPhone and the abrupt comments about how I shouldn’t use my dirty feet on a store’s credit card reader.
Few people have had to walk that road and that’s completely understandable. Most everyone else uses their hands for their daily lives so I’m not going to be one to complain. I’m going to put my head down and grind. I’m going to find a way to adapt to a world that’s meant for arms. I’ve spent 36 years of my life functioning as a bulldozer of sorts: I’ll keep going no matter what’s in front of me. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I’ve got this.
That’s a solid self-care philosophy. That’s terrible theology.
First and foremost, I don’t have this. When failure and trial come my way, self-sufficiency is never the solution. If anything my hardships should remind me of the fact that I am not self-sufficient. I don’t “got this,” but I do know someone who does.
My hardships and failures ought to awaken me to the frail and fleeting nature of my own strength. Yet, my frailty points me to One who hung the moon and the stars. It points me to He who upholds the world in just the palm of His hand. My weakness is about as weak as it comes, but His strength is something to behold.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Our strongest moments come when we realize how weak we really are and how powerful He truly is. Grace is made wholly known even in the worst possible circumstances to those of us who trust in God & His power. That grace is even deeper manifested in the fact that not only does God reveal more of Himself to us in the midst of our hardships but he also uses those hardships to sharpen us and grow our faith.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7
In this refining by the fires of trial, the impurities of our faith are pulled out little by little. We lean into God and His majestic strength and as we do we see His faithfulness and His goodness. As we taste and see the abundant kindness and strength of the Father we trust Him more. We exercise our faith and our faith is built up all at once. It is almost a building of spiritual muscle by way of having to exercise it.
Not only do we have a growing, vibrant faith in the midst of trial but there also is a strong biblical connection between trials and joy. You see it in 1 Peter 1 as Peter tells the dispersed church “in this you rejoice.” In this dispersion, this loss of all things comfortable, the constant pressure of being strangers & aliens – in THAT you rejoice. You have joy because He is with you and working in you and on you.
Then over in James 1 we see the same sort of language, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” We ought to soak in the joy of the day knowing that, though we are afflicted, we are loved, we are being grown and we are being upheld by a gracious and powerful God.
When we hurt we know this isn’t our time to shine, it is our time to trust. It is our time to trust and be grown all by the work of His power and grace.