Are you weighed down by troubles?
The journey of faith for a believer in Christ is, it seems, a series of mountains that we climb. We would like to think that the life of “following Him” makes life easier and we sometimes find ourselves perplexed at having trials. Or perhaps we are perplexed at the kind of trials we endure. They seem random, or the perfect “non-fit” for us. While we are promised that God desires to give us an abundant life, the implications of “full and meaningful” seem contrary to the troubles we sometimes experience.
To be sure everyone in the human race has ups and downs. For the believer, the “mountain top experiences” can be so exhilarating that their memory propels us on even as we go through a season bombarded with troubles. I don’t believe the only purpose of good times is to get us through bad times, but they often help. They are memories of God’s faithfulness and what gets us through is not the going back in our mind to good and pleasant times so much but the reminder that God was good to us then and He will continue to be good to us in the future. We learn to think on a deeper level about what “good” means. We would prefer an existence without anxiety, but we find it is very human to experience such. Some chapters of life can become overwhelming, especially if our focus is on the problems without a vision beyond them.
God, the Master Artist is working out a Masterpiece in our lives not only for our benefit, but for those around us. Like the pain-staking work of Michelangelo, and infinitely more, sometimes the sculptor’s tools have to break off some sharp edges to make the God-given potential within us fulfilled. His divine purposes, though often not easy, are infinitely good. The building up of our faith has great meaning to Him, and vital to the final picture. We cannot possibly envision the unveiling and that’s where we get caught up. We just want to understand, but faith is not about understanding, it is about trust.
The author of Streams in the Desert quotes spiritual giant George Mueller in responding to the question as to the best way to have strong faith:
The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.”
A “severe testing” carries with it a temptation, and that temptation is to give up. Giving up can mean many things. It can be as seemingly subtle as becoming cynical, to forfeiting the hopes we have based our lives upon and worse. Instead of placing our broken dreams in God’s hands we elect to hold it tight which can make us bitter. At many levels giving up is dangerous to our souls. If we believe our troubles serve no eternal purpose or of trivial meaning then we are in a fragile place that can cause us to give in to depression or despondency.
Madame Guyon said,
I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation – a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God’s designs regarding you, and His methods of bring about these designs are infinitely wise.”
It is in that infinite wisdom of God that we see colors that are true-to-life. This requires the spectacles of faith. An intense focus on our troubles make them appear larger than life. Large though the testing may be, within the scope of God’s purposes, personal pain can carve and craft our souls like an exquisite sculptor until every perfect detail is in place. We cannot see the image in the Great Sculptor’s mind, but we can trust in His goodness, His vision, His perfect artistry and the promise of tumultuous joy after a long night of tears. And that kind of joy is not trivial but magnificent. For if we have been educated in the school of tears we see more clearly and have developed a capacity to experience joy and contentment on a level never before experienced. Truly the storm clouds develop the most brilliant silver lining before our eyes when we least expect it! When we see a glimpse of the purposes revealed, there is great cause for celebration!
Child of God, there is hope ahead. As much as we would like it to, it is human to see our hope in the solving of our problems. But when we experience the peace of God, right in the middle of the unsolved riddles of life, therein is a soul and rest with a capacity to receive all good ahead that God has planned.