Trials: Unwanted Obstacles or Necessary Opportunities?

25 Sep

I had the privilege of sharing the message this past Sunday morning with my family at The River Church. As I was preparing the message in the weeks leading up to Sunday, I realized that I was preaching a message that was directed at myself as much as (if not more so) anybody in the room. And, it has become even more painfully obvious in the days following. I talked about trials and struggles and how we should rejoice because God can and will use our trials for a purpose…His Purpose.  I spoke with great enthusiasm about rejoicing in the midst of the storm. It was with great conviction that I shared a Paul Tripp quote, “Sometimes God will take you where you have not chosen to go, in order to produce in you something that you could never achieve on your own”. And, it was with great confidence that I shared 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” The things that we are experiencing now are fleeting and temporary; they will not last, and for something to be necessary, there must be a desired outcome or result. This passage alone is so pregnant that we could talk for days about it, but I need to move on to something else. I need to be brutally honest and transparent-It’s necessary!

I still struggle with periods/seasons of depression and anxiety. These times are not as bad or as frequent as they once were, but they still come nonetheless. Anyone who has experienced it, knows where I am coming from and if you haven’t, you don’t! Sorry, but that’s the reality. I can feel the black cloud moving in and it consumes me. Well, it rolled in on me Sunday afternoon and the enemy (who prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour) has been working overtime. I have come to know that in these times, God is not absent, He hasn’t moved, and He wants to draw me even closer to Himself. He wants to use these times to ultimately bring himself Glory by changing my heart and helping me to realize and accept my utter dependence on His Grace and Mercy. These times are not obstacles to faith, they are actually opportunities to grow in faith.

I frequently listen to Mark Driscoll and heard something yesterday that messed me up. He talked about Paul not becoming “bitter” when he was broken, beaten, poor, hungry, and in prison because he saw it as “an opportunity to make much of Jesus and help the well being of His church” Jesus experienced incredible suffering and He endured it and overcame it because of a purpose! If you were to ask the saints who have experienced trials and suffering, my guess is that, while they would not have chosen that particular path, they would not trade it for anything because of the purpose it served. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the trials, struggles, tribulations, suffering, hardships, etc. are evidently NECESSARY to produce a desired outcome. An outcome that we could not achieve on our own.

A few definitions I found for “necessary” are; “Unable to be changed or avoided”, “Absolutely essential”, and “Needed to achieve a certain result or effect”. So, if trials are necessary (scripture says they are), then my new definition of trials (depression and anxiety right now) is as follows: Trials are unavoidable, unchangeable circumstances and events that are absolutely essential to achieve intimacy with God. They are the arena where I have the opportunity to make much of Jesus and be drawn closer to Him. My prayer is that I would stay focused on Him in the midst of the storm knowing that there is a purpose; that I would maintain the enthusiasm, confidence, and conviction that I have when things are good; and that no matter what the circumstances, I would make much of Jesus!

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