Patient in Tribulation

April 27, 2012

Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Patient in Tribulation

Sometimes we get discouraged, our faith may begin to wane and doubt looks for opportunity to enter in.  We’ve all been there and we’ve all fought those battles from time to time.  Our natural mind starts to take over and we may begin to think, “Am I crazy, is there really a God and if so, does He really care about me?”  If He did, would I be going through all of these problems and issues in my life right now?
These are all legitimate questions and ones I would imagine all of us have wrestled with at times in our lives.  There is a reason that God didn’t take tribulations, trials, testing, persecutions and afflictions out of our life.  Nothing will test the metal of your faith like these fires will.  Nothing will solidify your confidence and commitment like these things will.
Have you watched kids who grew up having everything and having parents that took care of all of their problems and messes.  They are generally quite weak in their character.  They’ve never endured the hardships and disciplines that developed that character.  Often the strongest people we know may have grown up in the worst of circumstances and had the most challenges in life.
Listen to what Paul says about tribulation in Romans 5:1-5.  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Are you crazy Paul?   Why would you rejoice in suffering?  Who would want that?
He rejoices in it, because of the fruit that it produces in patience, character and hope that does not disappoint.  It is our opportunity to lay hold of the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  In your weakness, who makes you strong?  In your poverty, who makes you rich?  In your foolishness, who makes you wise?  It is in our deficiency, that we must find His sufficiency.  Psalms 105:19 says, “The LORD’s promise tested him through fiery trials until his prediction came true.”  In order to receive the promise you have to prove the promise.  The proof is in your faith to stand through the fiery testing till it comes to pass.
1 Peter 4:12-14 exhorts us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
Listen again at what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3-9.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  Suffering and trials are the refining fires of your faith, not to destroy, but to perfect you in the character of who you were called to be in Christ.  Those fires may touch everything around you; they may touch your very person, health, wealth and well-being, but they can only purify your faith that is “shielded by God’s power”.
Consider how the book of James starts out in James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you 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.”
What is with these  apostles telling us to count our tribulation and trials joy.  Don’t they know that because of them I have been tempted to give up.  I’ve doubted God and myself?
Metal is tempered through the fire.  God’s purifying His divine gold nature in you.  Through our suffering and trials we have to deal with the dross of our doubts, fears and unbelief.  The way up into Him is through the fire.  As God’s loving arms draws you closer into Him, His consuming fire is burning up more and more all that is not of Him.  Romans 8:17 encourages us with this truth, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Finally Jesus encourages us with these words from John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  The good news is that the Overcomer of the world now resides in you.  As we allow His life to live and flow through us we rest from our own abilities and efforts to confidently trust that no matter what we face, we don’t face it alone.   Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith and in Him we shall prevail.

Blessings,
kent

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