Monday, October 4, 2010

When Our Troubles Help Us Achieve An Eternal Glory

Have you ever found yourself in immense turmoil, only to ask yourself: "How in the world is this for God's glory?" Just looking back the past few years of my life, I can name many friends that have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles... circumstances that would have undoubtedly left me asking, "Why Lord?" Now... that's not to say that I don't understand "why"...I know, from experience, that God allows such circumstances to enter our lives as a way to draw us close to Him... and for others to watch as we rely on Him for strength, bringing Him glory in everything we do and every obstacle we come across. But... despite knowing this, my humanistic, selfish nature still asks the rhetorical question, "Why?"
Chan writes: "The promise that our troubles are 'achieving for us an eternal glory' seems hard to believe in the midst of the mess. It sounds trite to say that our struggles on this earth are 'light and momentary' as Paul wrote, doesn't it? Mine don't feel that way. At times they threaten to engulf the rest of my life." p. 107
I have this friend that makes a point of reminding you that none of your struggles in this life can compare to the horrible atrocities that are being committed somewhere else in the world. And I will readily admit that she is right; however, her truth is sometimes spoken with condemnation and contempt. I truly feel her intention is to encourage us by changing our perspective, but the undeniable result is anything BUT encouraging. You almost always walk away feeling ashamed... that you have absolutely no right to be upset about your circumstances. Honestly, you walk away not wanting to seek comfort from God, or draw near to Him... instead, you want to run away and hide (like that's even possible!) ashamed to let Him see that you are so "self-centered" and incapable of "handling it on your own." Does this ring true to anyone else besides me?
What I've come to understand this past year is that God does care about how I feel. He cares if my heart is wounded by someone's piercing words. He cares if I feel overwhelmed with life's demands. He cares that I feel alone... even though He is always with me. But, more importantly, I've come to understand that it's when I experience immense sadness or trouble that I seek Him... almost like a reminder that "Yes, my child, I am STILL here. I've always been here...YOU just forgot!"
If I'm honest, for the longest time, I only sought Him in desperation. I didn't seek Him for the "smaller" things in life... because I could handle the smaller things... of course, I can only laugh at that idea now. We become so ego-centric... We think we can handle the small stuff without Him... which is probably why so much of the small stuff becomes BIG STUFF... and why we worry so much about it! Sometimes, I'm left wondering if He allows the bigger obstacles into our lives so that we don't forget to go to our knees... so we don't forget where the source of our strength comes from. So that we can see how miraculous His love is. I'm still having a hard time being thankful for the obstacles... but I am thankful for the reminders of how much He loves me and wants me.
Look back at the past year of you life. Were there any obstacles... trials... burdens heaped upon your shoulders that constantly had you asking, "Why, Lord, is this your will?" If so, looking back, did that experience ultimately draw you closer to Him? Did you seek Him more? Did you talk to Him more... even if it was to just ask "why?" Reflect on that time, and ask yourself if you can see the blessings of God's grace and love during the trial. If not, ask Him now to help you with a better understanding.

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