The Lightweight Life? Part 2 of our Tests & Trials seriesMay 31, 2023
I Want to Know Jesus: Part 4 of our Tests & Trials seriesJune 14, 2023
And lead us not into temptation trials … —Matt. 6:13
Last week we concluded with the apostle Paul’s summary of why and how tests and trials can be used to our advantage:
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.—2 Cor. 12:8-10 (your added)
“I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” Is this some form of “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” Are we inviting trials a kind of masochistic self-torture? No, this is simply the logical conclusion of a seasoned follower of Jesus, who has learned to turn adversity to tribute—to turn adversity to his advantage, as a means to deepen his trust in his Father.
You see, the old Sam typically reacted—and just as typically over-reacted—in fear of tests and trials. My dominant, precious idol is comfort. And I react in fear whenever that idol is threatened. My Heavenly Father knows this about me, and that it is not a healthy thing. So because he loves me perfectly, just as I am, but way too much to leave me just as I am, he will either lead me into tests, and/or allow me to stumble my way into tests and trials.
I have plenty of experience stumbling into trials on my own. And you?
When my precious idol of comfort, or anything else important to me is threatened, I am tempted to doubt my Father. What is it I am doubting? His perfect love. His perfect power. His perfect presence—in all the details of my life. In essence, I am tempted to doubt his character.
This reminds me of the ten-year-old surgeon’s son out on the playground at recess. Another boy comes up to him and says, “My father says your father sticks knives into people and cuts them up.”
The little boy was quiet for a moment as he pondered this. He then calmly replied, “My father is a good man. He is a kind and loving man. So if he does that, it is for the good of the person he is cutting up.”
When I doubt I am simply choosing—and it is always a choice—to not believe Jesus. As John Ortberg said, “You may believe in Jesus, but you don’t believe what Jesus believes.”
Jesus had this to say about the Father’s perfect power:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”—Matt. 10:29
And this about his perfect presence in the details of your life:
30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.—Matt. 10:30-31
The Beloved disciple John tells us this about God’s perfect love:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!—1 John 3:1
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.—1 John 4:16
John concludes with this:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.—1 John 4:18
Stand firm in your trust and your confidence in the character of your loving Heavenly Father, and begin to live the life that is truly life.1
- 1 Timothy 6:19