Hope Through Trials
As believers and followers of Jesus a lot of our growth is determined by the revelation and reality of the hope we share in Christ. As the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding to the depth and power of the hope of our calling, it radically changes how we make decisions and ultimately how we approach our lives.
As followers of Jesus we have to realize that each day we live is a gift because we are called! Our lives are not our own, they belong to the Lord. But life's trials and difficulty can challenge our faith filled understanding of this truth. When trials come we all can fall into a mindset of owning and protecting our lives when things get difficult, intimidating and confusing. We lose hope and take back the reigns of our life. But here's the incredible truth we have over our lives as Christians, the power, love and goodness of God is made manifest in times of trial as we submit to His will in faith. Faith is needed to act upon His leading because it is almost always counter intuitive to our own instincts. So in times of trial, we first need to remind ourselves of God's promise over us as we follow Him. Scripture tells us this:
Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV)
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
The good news, the hope of our calling, is that God orders our steps in a way that delights Him and brings life to us. Nothing else in this life can promise that. The difficulty of this passage is that it also says, we will fall. Unfortunately God doesn't lead us in a manner that is difficulty free, but He does promise that it's temporary and will not destroy us but grow us. If anything, we learn more about His goodness, grace, and power in times when we fall. BUT, if we check out and revert back to fear driven decisions that have everything to do with self preservation, we can't experience the power of being upheld by His hand. When we exercise our free will to stop allowing Him to order our steps because of difficulty and begin to order our own steps, we become utterly cast down. Utterly cast down as it pertains to seeking and moving within God's will, is to become paralyzed in our faith walk. We need to remember that His will is our life source, without it we can do nothing. So to be cast down completely is to be immobile in our faith because we are having difficulty, or are fearful and perplexed, and cut ourselves off from the life of God that is found in our obedience.
We need to remember that God's overarching will for each of us will always have to do with serving one another as we love one another. Our gifts given to us by God, are meant to be exercised within the church to bring health and strength to the body that we all belong to in Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:14-19 (NKJV)
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
We can't serve each other if we are utterly cast down and immobile. We have to tell ourselves, "We may fall, but God will always pick us up." As He upholds us we can continue to serve each other through our gifts. This is where our true life is found. Not in retreat and isolation, but in standing firm on the hope of OUR CALLING and the promises of our God over our lives.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Today my prayer is that we can become a church that is bound together by the hope of our calling and the assurance that, though we may fall, God will always hold us up so we can continually love and serve one another. It's the purpose of Christ's church. To be one, together, standing on a hope greater than our own. I want to be a church body known for the hope demonstrated through our love toward one another, our worship that declares our confidence in the One who has called us, and our perseverance to follow even when times are difficult.