Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Character, Not Comfort

uphill both ways?
She's got a new boss at work who just happens to be BFF's with her worst enemy and now her once perfect job is causing acid producing knot twisting action in her stomach not knowing if this will jeopardize her job or not.

After several good years of getting a nice chunk of change back on his tax returns, it's been turned around... and the amount due next month is heavy. He has no idea where the funds will come from.

They are behind again on their mortgage and the dunning notices are piling up. 

He's been out of work for 6 months and the doors just keep closing.

She has excruciating pain in her teeth, no dental insurance and on top of that she is terrified of dentists.

The car wouldn't start this morning and he had a very important meeting to get to. 

I could go on and on....

Any one of those scenarios could be or has been something I've lived through in the past several years. Sometimes I pull my hair in utter frustration, wondering if life is ever going to get easier. And then, I listened in rapt attention last night as a dear missionary friend shared a hair raising tale of being held up at gunpoint while on the mission field, and then went on to tell of the horrible road trip they took, where if anything could go wrong, it did. He said at each break down, at each set back, at each delay, they prayed for their situation and shortly there after found help in one form or another. But he asked God "why did you allow all these mishaps to happen in the first place, Lord. I mean, here I am doing Your work and I thought you would protect me, bless me, make straight my path."

sometimes life just feels like an uphill battle
And God replied, "I'm more interested in building your character, your faith, than providing you with comfort."

Oh, isn't that the way it works? We pray for patience and instead of being automatically gifted with the ability to endure and accept all things, we are given plenty of opportunities to practice patience. We ask for our faith to be increased and suddenly all kinds of things start happening that scare us to death, or threaten our security in some way. Instead of quick easy solutions we're given faith building exercises.

Sometimes I don't like the way God thinks. I want Him to think MY WAY. I want His plans to fall in with mine, instead of submitting to His will for my life. Sometimes I just want things to be comfortable. Is that too much to ask? I don't want much... just a steady income so we can pay our bills on time and lower our debt ratio. I want to be able to enjoy dinner out once in awhile, or at least go for a cup of coffee with a friend. Cars that run smoothly, tools that don't break, pantries that never empty. Yet time and time again, I stare at bare cupboards. I twist the checkbook nervously in my hands as I weigh the balance against the pile of bills on the desk. Every time the car makes a funny noise my stomach does a flip and not in a good way. When more than a couple of days pass of my husband being off work, the panic rises inside me.

I don't like living this way. I want to live comfortably. Yet I can sense God telling me the same thing He told our friend.

Jesus said. "In this world you will have trouble."*

 Oh. Gee. Thanks.

"But take heart, for I have overcome the world!"

oh. o.k. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind." emphasizes James.*

Joy? Really? And not just joy but Pure Joy

"for you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow."

I've grown, really I have. I've groaned too. Haven't I arrived yet?  

"So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

oh. o.k. 

I get tired, but I understand. I have a choice. I can sit there and feel sorry for myself, wallow in self pity, and grouse about how nobody  loves me, how hard my life is and it feels like God's just picking on me. Or, I can persevere. I can keep on keeping on, knowing that I won't walk alone. He does give me plenty of opportunities to practice what I say I believe and He also promises He will help me.

I pick up my sad dragging little behind and plod forward as I should. And in the first step, He gives me grace.

*John 16:33
*James 1:2-4

1 comment:

  1. Stepping along there with you in this awareness of character growing. To paraphrase a song from a movie I have yet to see but really want to, "Let it grow, let it grow..."


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