Because the Struggle IS the Thing

This life is a test. It is only a test.

A pink rose garden

A pink rose garden

9 Satan answered the Lord

, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”

~ Job 1:9-11 (HCSB)

Have you ever said, “If only…”? “If only I had more energy, I could do more good.” “If only I had more money, I could donate more to the Church and/or charity.” “If only I had my health, I could help out more at Church functions or even the local homeless shelter.”

If only.

We live in a results-driven world. We want to know the “bottom line”. Does it measure up? Is it improving? What else can we measure?

Mind you, we often don’t measure the right things. Or, perhaps we misuse the results of what we measure to place emphasis upon something contradictory to our mission, such as customer service is supposed to appease the customer but we measure in how fast we can get them off the phone — a metric so stupid it is one of my top ten pet peeves.

Sometimes what we measure are very small things. Mostly, because we can. It is too difficult and too much effort to measure the big things. Often, the big things are more subjective and harder to measure anyhow, so why try?

Yet, God looks at the big picture, doesn’t He?

8   “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

     and your ways are not My ways.”

     This is the Lord’s declaration.

~ Isa 55:8 (HCSB)

We live in a results oriented world, but it often ignores or even runs completely counter to what God seeks. God seeks results too! However, He does not think on our terms.

9 But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

10 For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—all things exist for Him and through Him—should make the source[d] of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

~ Heb 2:9-10 (HCSB)

God’s target is clear: Bringing many children to glory. The path is clear: Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  The method is clear: Through suffering.

Job and his three friends were a lot like the prosperity preachers of our time. “If you please God, He will bless you” — materially, of course. The Bible never promises that, however. As the song goes, “I never promised you a rose garden.”

HWA often spoke of the need to develop godly character. Otherwise, what purpose would this physical life serve after conversion? Yet, how do we know when we’ve attained it? It’s one thing to tithe when you have lots of money, but it’s another when you have very little. It is something even more to give an offering when you are bankrupt. I’m just picking on one example, for almost any command becomes more difficult under trials.

And, it is trials, plural. You ever know anyone who only had a trial? Me neither. They often happen in groups, and sometimes one problem causes others. Health problems can cause loss of job, just as a common example I’ve seen.

How a person reacts when it seems that everyone and everything is against them says a lot about the person. Will they give up? Will they cave in to their fears? Will they listen to others when the Bible says something else?

Here’s a tough one: Will they do it with grace? Will they do it with courage? Will they do it in humility?

Let me reword that: Will I do it with grace? Will I do it with courage? Will I do it in humility?

So, when we consider “Why suffering?”, we should be considering “Why not suffering?” I am not suggesting we foolishly pile on trials for ourselves, but we need to step back and realize that this entire life is a test. Test and trial are synonyms, and sometimes the KJV translates it one way and other times the other. That alone should give us food for thought.

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