God is preparing us for unspeakable joy.
Dr. C.S. Lovett
"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Brrrrng”, I picked up the phone. “Hello, Sam? This is Bill.”
His voice was weak. I knew he was calling from the hospital, fighting his third battle with cancer and things didn't look good. His words were faint and feeble as he gasped for air. “The doctors say they've done all they can for me and are sending me home Monday. I guess to die.”
“Well, how do you feel about going to be with the Lord?”
"I'm scared, Sam. I'm afraid to face Him."
"Brother, how can I help?”
"I've wasted my life. I haven't lived for Him like I should. I've worked to get ahead in the world and good times. I have almost nothing to show for my time on earth. I know I'm going to be standing before Him real soon and I dread what He's going to say to me."
WHAT A SAD THING
It hurts God to have any of His children go out of this life like Bill. You expect most believers to be happy at the thought of leaving this life and being with Jesus. The Lord is not going to reward people for living for themselves instead of living for Him. The hard truth is—the place we give the Lord Jesus in this life, determines the place He will give us in the next. Our Savior knows it is hard to serve a Lord we cannot see. The old adage. . . "Out of sight, out of mind," holds true for the believer. But the Lord has a way of helping us. He uses the devil. You laugh. But listen, God could destroy Satan with a single word, but He hasn't. He permits the devil to remain on the scene to afflict us.
THIS IS HOW GOD HELPS US
There are no accidents in the life of a Christian. Every evil, hurtful and stressful thing that happens to us, God arranges or allows for our benefit. So He uses Satan to prod us and make us look to Him for help. You see, you can't be an overcomer without something to overcome, and the devil can give us plenty to overcome.
Of course, if we choose to go our own way, the Lord will let us. He won't touch our wills, but we know by experience our bodies and wallets can take a beating. Did you know that we Christians are like tea bags? That's right, tea bags. We don't come to full strength unless we're in hot water. You can smile at that, but it's true.
OF COURSE IT'S TRUE
Do we really pay any attention to the Bible passages which tell us that suffering and trials are normal for Christians? When we hear, for example,
"It is given unto you in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1 :29), do we take it seriously? Or again, Peter's word to troubled believers. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing had happened to you, but REJOICE inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings. . ." (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Rejoice? That's the last thing we do. We're more apt to complain and cry for relief. We're not a bit joyful when sicknesses strike our bodies, when financial pressures mount or our marriages are in trouble. We want God to remedy the situation--right now. Though we all agree there are no accidents in the Christian's life, it doesn't occur to us somehow that our present difficulty is part of His plan. So we beg God to take away the very thing He has allowed!
DON'T ROCK THE BOAT!
We resent anything that upsets our routine or peace of mind. We're so locked into this attitude that we RESIST CHANGE. Left to ourselves WE'D NEVER CHANGE. To our thinking, good health, some money on hand and time to enjoy it, is the only way to live. So we settle into the routine of three meals a day, on the job and back to bed. In the process we build houses and raise families, hoping to go through life as comfortably as possible. The sad thing is we do not grow. And growing into the likeness of His Son is the name of the game, as far as God is concerned (Rom. 8:29).
Most of us can look back and see how the greatest changes in our lives came at a time of crisis. We don't like sickness, disappointments and tragedies, but God knows they are necessary, so He allows them.
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDE?
"It's not the force of the gale but the cut of the sail, that determines the way we go."--Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Heard that before? With its sail set properly, a ship can USE the fiercest wind to reach its destination quickly. It's not the force of the wind that makes the difference, but what a seaman does with it. So it is with trouble in our lives. It is NOT the severity of the trial that determines what happens to us, but our attitude toward it.
If we have the right attitude, we can make dramatic changes into the likeness of Christ. Here are seven steps to follow when a trial is sent into your life:
"In EVERYTHING," says the apostle Paul, "give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18). It thrills God for us to praise Him when things "go wrong." If we consider that God is preparing us for unspeakable joy, we will find that we CAN rejoice in a tragic situation.
YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS
I know the Spirit can bear witness that the name of the game is CHANGE. We've got to grow NOW—tomorrow may be too late. There are no make-up classes in Christianity. We enter heaven just as we are at the point of death AND NEVER CHANGE. If we want to grow in the likeness of the Lord, it has to be in THIS LIFE. Once we leave this world, the conditions for change (as we know it) simply do not exist.
Where we're going there will be no tears, pain or sorrow of any kind (Rev. 21:4). There will be no devil to tempt us, no hurt to forgive, no anxiety to conquer with patience, no way to become long suffering. One must suffer a long time to develop that grace. Thus, the conditions for growth into Jesus' likeness simply don't exist in heaven. The time is now. And why is it so important? When we stand before Jesus at His Judgment Seat, our maturity will be assessed and we will be assigned a position in His kingdom based on that assessment. Put another way, the evaluation of our growth here determines our eternal job there. Our growth, you see, is actually our capacity for Christ.
Your biggest thrill will come when you discover that with GOD—trying is winning! So the next time trouble strikes, you'll say. . .
PRAISE THE LORD!
C. S. Lovett
(edited by Marjorie Lovett)