One of the most difficult challenges that we Christians face in this walk of faith is believing that we have heard from the Lord and obey the direction, then our world seems to fall apart. This is one of the defining moments of faith and a process known as refining. Sometimes when things begin to go wrong, often we will question ourselves if we truly heard from the Lord. Thinking we have misunderstood, we might dismiss the direction and go back to the way we used to do things, short circuiting God’s purpose.This is a lie of the evil one who wants you to lose faith. There are other times when we might begin thinking we have become tangled up in sin and begin confessing any sin that might come to mind. Finally, when there seems to be no relief in sight, we might even question the Lord or remind him we are on the same side.
I believe that this response stems from living in a world of conditional love. We are raised in a performance-based system. If we do the right things, we will receive rewards, if we do the wrong things, then we will receive punishment. We carry this conditioning into our relationship with Jesus. Anytime things go wrong, we believe we are being punished, and anytime things are good, we believe that we are being rewarded. It takes time with the Lord to begin to understand his love and his methods.
God’s love for us is unconditional, which means he loves us without condition. This concept is very difficult for us grasp, but the Bible explains this in detail. One of the first passages of scripture we were taught as a child is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Some may even identify a condition within this verse, but the fact is God always initiates love. He loved, He gave and it was not based on performance.
Being in the center of God’s Will, can be a place of difficulty and pain. When Jesus died on the cross, he was in the center of God’s will. When the children of Israel triumphed over their enemies, they were in the center of God’s will and when they sent to Babylon, they were also in the center of God’s will. It is difficult to understand the perfect will of God from our prospective. Our limited vision of the things of God will cause us to misunderstand God’s ways.
So what does it mean when we are obeying God, but everything seems to be going wrong? James put it this way, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy” (James 1:2 NLT).
Joy? What is he nuts? No, James continues, “For when you faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow, for when your endurance if fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” (James 1:3-4 NLT). God has initiated a spiritual growth-training program that will not only grow our character or “image of Christ”, and will deepen our understanding of him.
Peter wrote, “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It’s being tested as fire tests and purifies gold, and you faith is more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT).
When God is molding you and shaping you into the image of Jesus, it will be painful, but the end result is the ability to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. The proverbs say, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT).
Discipline is the evidence of love, if God did not discipline you, then we could never grow. If God didn’t love you, he would not correct you, but leave you to your own ways. In these trials, the Lord is preparing you for service, which is more than you can imagine. Think of all the great men and women of the Bible, they all suffered through difficult circumstances, but in the end, their sights and hope was set directly on God Almighty, who carried them through and completed their purpose and they arrived safely to their destination.
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