Not “If” But “When” – Part 1
“‘But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.’” (Mark 4:6 NIV)
Why does God permit trials in our lives? I don’t claim to comprehend all of his ways, but we can be sure of these truths:
God uses difficulties and trouble to reveal how deep the Word has gone in our hearts. In the parable of the sower, Jesus told about seed falling in rocky places. “But since they have no root,” he said of these plants, “they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:17). Notice that Jesus did not say “if” trouble or persecution comes but rather “when” it comes. It is permitted by him as part of our discipline and schooling.
Sometimes we think we’re really getting sanctified, we’re really growing in the Lord— and then a trial comes along to prove otherwise. Our immature reaction tells us we are not as well rooted as we had assumed.
When the sun is shining and everything is going well, you don’t really know what kind of Christian you are. Only the storm reveals that.
In addition to showing our spiritual depth, difficulties have another beneficial effect. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The way we become people of character is to persevere through hard times. We get through the first difficulty by hanging onto God, and the second one becomes that much more manageable. Eventually we come to resemble a strong tree with deep roots that can stand up to any windstorm.
Can you actually rejoice in suffering? I’m not sure I have reached such a place in God—but I want to get there. Have you ever gotten a phone call from a fellow Christian saying, “Praise God! I just lost my job, and it’s wonderful, because it’s building character in me— hallelujah!”? I haven’t lately.
The familiar words of “Amazing Grace” say,
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
‘Twas grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Carol and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers once recorded a simple chorus that says,
Hold me, hold me,
I’m in the midst of a storm.
Hold me, hold me,
I’ll be safe in my Father’s arms.*
I am struck by the honesty of those lyrics. People do go through storms in life, and only God can hold us steady.
To be continued…
*"Hold Me," written by Joan Ewing, John T. Benson Pub Co., as recorded by George Younce and the Cathedrals on their Goin' In Style album, 1988
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Fresh Power)
Read Mark 4:3-20.