“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NASB)
Does God test us? Certainly we have seen in scriptural teaching and the stories of the saints that God allows certain tests in our lives in order to transform us. These tests and trials are divinely allowed to grow us and to shine a light as to where we are in our faith. Will we deny our Lord? Will we question His providence?
Will we too abandon Him on that cross?
We are made acceptable to God through the eyes of our faith, in our action to reform ourselves and in bringing God to a hurting world. It is easy to follow Christ when everything around us is good and we are content. But when the tide starts to turn, why do we shift our thoughts to immediately say, Lord where are you?
Our trials are not only of the evil one. As in Job, I find that God allows trial in our lives to see where our faith is. The scriptures tell us this about testing and trial:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
I find that during times of tempting and trial, it is important to keep my focus solely on Christ. The crucifix contains all that we need to help us to keep ourselves together, to know that He sees us and He hears us. I think of Jesus frozen in that moment in time, writhing in pain, feeling abandoned and alone. That is how I marry my pain to His. I don’t take my eyes off of Him.
I find that in my pain, I feel God most. He is a God that understands pain. My suffering has never been in vain, it has all served a deeper purpose and meaning. Even now I write to you all in my suffering. I am experiencing physical pain in my body that doctors can’t seem to figure out. I have been up all night. But the Lord and I have a standing morning appointment. So when the alarm went off, I came to meet Him.
I feel a strange joy that is inexplicable. That in my pain there is sure to be a lesson that is somehow needed. That God is guiding me through even a small portion of His passion. I thank God for the gift of these experiences and for the cross that teaches me how to get through them.
If today you are suffering, sit quietly before your King. Thank Him for the cross and lean in. Experience your pain as you gaze upon His. Accept it as a grace. Ask Him this question, “Lord, what lesson am I supposed to learn?” We do not want to repeat lessons, but rather be able to move forward in our spiritual journeys to learn new ones.
It is hard not to ask for a sign that things will be ok. But you do not need a sign, you already have one. Jesus.