In last week’s blog, as we considered the pain that we experience from the storms of life, we ended with this thought:
In the midst of the storms of life, we will either allow what we are experiencing to interpret our view of God, or we will allow our view of God to interpret what we are experiencing.
This, of course, leaves us with the natural question of “What do I need to know about God that will enable to me to interpret properly the pain that I am experiencing?”
I contend there are four important truths that, if we embrace, will transform, if not the storms themselves, how we weather them.
First – In Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells us not to be worried about our lives and circumstances. Then in verse 26 he tells us why: “Look at the birds in the air, they do not sow or reap or gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
This verse reveals that we are of such great value to God. We are told in Jeremiah 31:3 that he loves us with an everlasting love.
Therefore, we first need to know that in the midst of our pain, He has not abandoned us, and He values us greatly.
Second – In Matthew 10:29 we are told by Jesus, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your father’s consent and notice.”
In other words, God is sovereign over all of life. If there is a storm in your life, God has allowed it to come into your life.
Third – In Jeremiah 32:27 we are told, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, is anything too difficult for me?”
God is capable of removing any storm from our lives whenever He chooses. However, if it remains in your life and might continue to be there for a while, maybe it is there for a reason. Maybe there is purpose in it.
Fourth and finally, we are told in Romans 8:28, that “God is causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.”
I remember when I first read this verse, and it gave me a great deal of encouragement, particularly when I realized that life was full of difficulty. The problem for me was how to interpret the meaning of good.
Sure, I wanted the “good life” and thought that was what God wanted for me; however, I had interpreted the good life to mean achievement, comfort, pleasure, and prosperity.
After it was pointed out to me, I soon realized that the importance of looking at the next verse in Romans; verse 29 revealed what was actually good or beneficial for my life in the sight of God. What I considered to be the good life was not at all what God had revealed it to be. In Romans 8:29 we are told that the ultimate good in life is that we be conformed to the image of His son. It finally dawned on me that God’s desire for me and for all people is to become more like Jesus…increasingly like Jesus. Up until that time, my entire life had been focused on what I was achieving and experiencing. God, on the other hand, was more concerned with the type of man that I was becoming.
However, as a man, I realized that I live in a culture in which men do not believe that “Christ-likeness” is very manly or masculine. Most men believe that to be like Christ is to be religious and to withdraw from the world.
However, as I studied Jesus’ life, I began to realize that Jesus was not religious – at least not what we typically think of as being religious. He lived in a very religious culture, one in which many of the religious people found Him to be quite contemptible:
• He did not follow their traditions to the letter of the Law.
• Many of the religious leaders did not like the people that He hung out with.
• He spoke harshly to the Pharisees and other men of learning and status.
• He made political matters worse as many of their followers began to follow Him and His teachings.
What I have realized is this: Christ-likeness is not at all what I thought it to be. In essence, it is:
• To be transformed in our character,
• To grow in wisdom, and
• To love, to have compassion, and to have high-quality relationships.
And as a man, I have come to realize that character, wisdom, and love make up the essence of what it means to be an authentic man.
And so, I would ask you, what is the great good in your life? If it is comfort, prosperity, and pleasure, then the storms of life are nothing more than a calamity which should be avoided at all costs.
However, if the ultimate good in life is to become like Christ, then you will see that God uses the storms of life to bring that to pass. And therefore you will see hardship as a blessing, as a gift.
In next week’s blog, I will offer some specific ways to respond to negative circumstances once they enter your life.