Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why We Must Be Tested: God's Sufficient Grace

Let's face it: The trials and tribulations of life that God sovereignly brings into our lives (those which He has ordained before the foundation of the world) are not fun. In fact, they are not pleasant, meaningful, exciting, and, in our carnal minds, we wonder just what is going on and if God has deserted us. The trials and tribulation are so severe sometimes that we find ourselves crying out in despair, unable to eat or drink, and are often so incapacitated by them that we are unable to respond to our families and friends. (See the Old Testament book, Job)

And yet, it is about the trials and tribulations of life that God in His inerrant Word commands us to count or regard as joy when we encounter what can seem to us overwhelming trials of life.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3; NKJV)

Faith never grows so well as when we are under various trials and tribulations. This is a biblical fact and no matter how much we kick and scream against the goads, it is true whether we like it or not. It is the storms of life when the winds are blowing at tornado speeds and wreaking destruction, when the floodwaters rise up to our necks, when faith is the most disciplined and enlightened.

It is often because of the degree of our arrogance that the degree of our tribulation is the greatest. Think about it: The Bible tells us we are but “earthen vessels” all frail, delicate, breakable and yet upon whose sufficiency do we depend to get through life? Our own. Why then do we moan and cry out so when our own sufficiency fails us and we are in trouble as the result? Do we not make it worse when we try to claw our way out of tribulation rather than “count it joy” and depend upon that “treasure” we have in our “earthen vessels” to sustain us?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10; NKJV)

[May I humbly suggest that the “this treasure” in the above text is the “Grace of God” via the ministry of the Holy Spirit.]

We never regard ourselves so weak, much less as earthen vessels, until we find ourselves in circumstances that knock the wind from our self-sufficient sails. What do earthen vessels do? What can they do but sit around until someone comes along and plants a pretty flower in them or knocks them off the shelf. It is when the earthen vessel hits bottom that the realization of just how weak and fragile it is becomes apparent. It cracks up and breaks.

Don't you see that getting knocked off the shelf is exactly why God not only gives us trials but also often does so in such degree so that we can see just how weak and frail we really are apart from His enabling Grace? We never would confess our sinful self-dependence and reliance apart from being rendered weak from the tribulations that God sends us. We never would know how weak we are apart from the trials and tribulations of life. And it is exactly in the position of weakness where God wants His children because that is when we learn to depend on the power and strength of the Grace of God in the middle of trouble. That's why and how we can “count it all joy when you encounter various trials...”

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; NKJV)

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