Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.
Scripture – “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”- 1 Peter 1:6-7
Insight: If you’re a Christian, I’m sure you have wondered at one time or another why God allows such difficult and sometimes very painful trials into our lives. I mean, if God is Omniscient, all knowing, Omnipresent, everywhere at once, and Omnipotent, all powerful, why does He not stop His children from experiencing the pain and brokenness that often occurs to them? Have you ever thought that? Most people surely have and it may even cause them to doubt their faith or God’s power or goodness or even love for them. But God always has a purpose for everything He allows into our lives. Pastor Rick Warren has a famous line that I think really gets to the heart of why God allows painful tests and trials in our life and it goes like this: No test, then no testimony. Let’s consider the purpose of tests and trials that God allows into our lives and how we can use them to learn valuable lessons. After all, if we never went through storms, trials and tests in our lives would we ever think we really need God? My experience is God allows trials and tests into our lives to: 1.draw us closer to Him, 2. deepen our faith and dependence on him, 3. teach us valuable lessons, 4. teach us what doesn’t work, 5. humble us to the extent that we need to let go of any foolish pride, and 6. to refine us and make us stronger in our faith as noted in the scripture above from 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Often in the midst of severe tests and trials I have found myself saying “please Lord change these circumstances or change my circumstances,” but I have recently learned that often he says back to me “it is not your circumstances I am trying to change, but rather you.” Why does it take me so long to learn these lessons? But here’s the thing that gives me and you tremendous hope; God always uses our lessons learned during tests and trials for His higher purposes, and often it is our testimonies that derive from our harshest trials and tests that can lead others to saving faith in Christ. The hope is we never have to repeat the same test twice but can apply the lessons learned with wisdom to our lives to keep us on a better course. Here is one quick example from my life: I got caught up in the last Real Estate Bubble and decided that I was the man. So, I foolishly bought two properties in Arizona that were going to be my best investments ever. Well, not only did they both decline about 50% in value from where I bought them, but in the interim I had a lady I was renting to abandon 4 children in my home, ages 7-13 and that was the disaster that kept on giving. My other house had the back-sliding glass door stolen and the wildlife of Arizona decided to have a party in my house. To top it off, I was harassed by a HOA from hell that was sending me fines every week for 1” spurge weeds growing in my front yard. It was a 30-month nightmare and by the end of it, I was much poorer, humbled and defeated, but I learned how much I needed to depend on God and not myself to find my identity. God made it very clear that I was maybe the worst Real Estate Investor of all time. I know there are many lessons that are much more real, especially today with Coronavirus and its effects being felt long and wide, resulting in lost incomes, broken families, separation from loved ones, emotional guilt from not being able to see family members in the hospital before they passed. These things are real, and they are really tough. But whatever we are going through, it is important to know that God is not done with us yet, that He gets the last word and that He can use all things for good.(Romans 8:28) We may never ask for some of the tests we have to go through on this side of eternity, but we can learn from each and every experience to grow closer to God and to share our testimony with others who desperately need to hear it.