Sunday, June 19, 2011
Trials and Tribulations
Wow. What a timely message this morning. I cringed when I first saw that the sermon was coming from the book of James. James has always been rather hard on my old ego. I wondered how it would look through the eyes of Grace this morning. There are several verses in there that the Pentecostal background I had would use to prove that one must 'gut it out for God", if they indeed wanted to spend an eternity in heaven. Would today be more of the same?
Of course, not. Everything that gets taught from this particular pulpit is given through the filter of the simplicity of the Gospel message. The book of James is no different. Starting off in chapter 1, we're told to count it all joy when we fall into trials and tribulations. Yeah, yeah, right. I'd read this verse so many times, and the truth be known? I didn't count it joy. I pitched me a blue-livin fit when the trial didn't get over quickly enough for my satisfaction. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. But I'm sure I'm not alone in that mindset, am I? Well? Am I?? lol no... didn't think so.
It was gone on to mention that the trials aren't caused by God--He's not the one that's creating all those tribulations for us to go through. No, mankind invents enough trials for each other, God doesn't need to--if He wanted to. But, since we're going to go through the trials anyway, it'll reveal some information about our faith. It's easy to talk a good talk when everything's good, isn't it? Of course we'll praise Jesus when things are good. What's not to praise Him about? But what about when times are bad? What about when your nephew gets shot and killed by another friend? What about when your house is stripped bare by burglars--in broad daylight? What about when your child disowns you, and then disappears? Can you trust God then? Can we walk by faith when people are ripping our very heart out? Perhaps these are drastic points, but you get my drift. God knows our hearts. He doesn't need to watch us go through the trial. We, on the other hand, don't always know ourselves as good as we think we do.
The good news is, you don't have to gut it out for God. God is in no wise expecting you to be SuperChristian, able to leap pews in a single bound. No, He knows your heartaches, your frustrations, your fears. In spite of not being the SuperChristian that some preachers preach we should be, Jesus invites us to rest in Him--in the here and now, not just when we get to heaven.
The trials and tribulation sermon was illustrated quite nicely with the garbage bag commercials. We've seen the ones where "brand x" just disintegrates into nothing with the slightest bit of garbage. Then, "Super Brand" gets some long iron laden something or other put in it, we watch the garbage bag bulge out, only to be able to stand up to the stress of the extra heavy load in it. The long iron laden something are our trials. When we (garbage bags) are filled with the heavy load that is our trial, will we disintegrate, or will we stand up to the pressure? If Jesus lives within us, He's growing us to be "Super Brand". Our trials are for OUR benefit, not God's and not each others. Personally, I HATE failing. When I go through a trial and act less than Christlike--it's revealed to me that I was not walking by faith in that trial. Being humbled, I submit to God's loving teachings that will help me not melt quite so fast in the 'next' trial. God is faithful, even when we're not. That's simply the love of God at work.
What do your trials say about your faith?