Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why is Life So Difficult, even with our Savior?

We usually don’t associate mercy with pain, frustration, and disappointment. Instead, we’re convinced that if God loves us, we will feel good and triumph. That’s been my expectation, even though Scripture continues to warn me against this thinking.

Hosea suggests that if God truly does love us, He will limit our rations. When He doesn’t, and treats us as if we’ve just won the Lotto, oddly, we rebel:

  • I [God] cared for you [Israel] in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. (Hosea 13:5-6) 
We have a problem. We think that we know what’s best for us. As children of God, we know better than to pray for the Lotto or material fulfillment. However, we can’t understand why God allows us to continue to languish in the midst of certain sins. We pray:

  • God, if You really love me, why do I continue to struggle against these ugly lusts, fears, and irritations. Why don’t You make me more Christ-like so that I can show You off to the world. Instead, I’m struggling with myself.
Here are some reasons why we continue to struggle:

  1. Israel became proud when their needs were met and forgot about God. Even having our spiritual and emotional needs met would have this same effect.
  1. Our unmet needs bring us closer to God, teaching us to rely on Him. Paul wrote that he had suffered so that he wanted to die. However, this happened so that he’d trust in God and not in Himself (2 Cor. 1:8-9). He learned that it was only through his afflictions that he became strong in the Lord (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
  1. It is only through suffering and longing that we become more Christ-like (2 Cor. 4:10-11). King David thanked God for His afflictions, because, through them, he had to resort to God’s Word (Psalm 119:71).
  1. Afflictions make the mercy of God real (2 Cor. 1:5). The afflictions also equip us as ministers of the Word (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
  1. Afflictions are like oil. They spread grace and salvation. 
Actually, I trust that we are growing daily (Rom. 8:28). However, we don’t see it. Our Savior will not allow us to see it, lest we become proud. It is only upon His return that our eyes will be opened to what He has promised (1 John 3:2-3). Meanwhile, He will open the eyes of others, who might experience us as a sweet savor of our Lord (2 Cor. 2:14-15).

I have to admit that I often become quite disgusted with myself. However, there is a glorious purpose behind this. It serves as a growth hormone. Each time I become disgusted, I grieve over my sins. I am turned to His Word and am uplifted by what I see – that He loves me despite my unworthiness. His promises of forgiveness and love caress my heart as a chorus of birds in the fresh morning air. They encourage me to take the next step:

  • No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
I might not see it, but He does, and that’s the important thing!

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