Jan 02 2015
I know this is a harsh title, but please stick with me.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Do not despise last year. Great difficulty requires great perseverance. And this is not an empty container.
…the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I deeply empathize with those of you who had a difficult 2014. My 2014 began with one of the sharpest battles I’ve faced against depression in the 20+ years I’ve been affected by it. I couldn’t stop crying at almost any point during the day. This went on through June. Typically a strong person, I became genuinely scared I was losing my mind.
It’s in these moments we’re tempted to get angry with God and/or give up. We shouldn’t.
Imagine an infant crying in their crib. They’re fussy and it’s clear they want their mom or dad to pick them up. Parents will often let their kids “cry it out.” The mom or dad may be standing right outside the room, but they allow their precious baby to suffer because it’s required for their growth.
If God is our Father, should we expect he’d treat us much differently as his sons and daughters?
Jesus promised us he would never leave us nor forsake us. But, from experience, it does seem there are times God stands, like a parent, at a distance. Not because he doesn’t care but precisely because he does. He wants to see us grow. He knows: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
THE THREE KIDS
Watching kids deal with pain is fascinating. Some throw screaming-and-yelling tantrums, stomping around like miniature, outraged protestors. Others give up and collapse onto the ground in a puddle of tears. Not much changes as we get older. I’m no different.
But there’s a third response I find most interesting. Some kids will run to their parents’ arms and cry in their laps. The pain is still there but they don’t resist it. We can learn from them.
Go meet God.
Call out to him.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…
Cry in his lap.
Speak his name through your tears. Say to him, “Oh, Jesus…”, “Oh, my Lord and Savior…”, “Oh, God my Father…”
And say it repeatedly like a toddler would cry out, “mommy” or “daddy” over and over and over.
My brother and sister… Your pain is a result of God wanting to grow you. I know it feels bitter. Most medicine does. But, in the the end, this temporary discomfort will lead to joy.
We must train our hearts and minds to see pain as the means by which God accomplishes much of his work in us. As athletes forge themselves in gyms in order to perform better on the field, so we sometimes must be forged by life in order to become more like God and also perform better in the kingdom.
This is one reason the bible becomes indispensable. It teaches us perseverance.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Through the accounts of other people in the bible we learn endurance. Endurance! How to push forward! And the root of this hope?
…God who gives endurance…
Oh, my soul, don’t miss this! It is GOD who gives the endurance to stand up underneath all our challenges.
We’re right to look forward to a new year. Not because it’s an escape from LAST year or from discomfort. But because now we may well see the FRUIT of our struggles. Our pain is not pointless. Don’t lament last year, brother and sister. God is preparing you for glory.