Written by Crystal Comis
God is generous, more than most of us understand. He loves to give gifts to His kids, big gifts, and unexpected gifts. Most of these gifts are blessings we do not deserve. Since He is a good Father, there are many times in our lives He withholds from us, for our good. He knows that this is not for our immediate joy, but for the joy set before us. Because God is wise and disciplined, He can bare to hurt us and bring us into great pain. He does this because of His great love for us. Isaiah 53:10-11 tells us that God was pleased to bruise Christ because of the triumph it would bring. Knowing that God takes pleasure in our pain is hard to understand. But God commands us in James 1:2 to find joy in trials. Just as a work of art progresses, we are being perfected and remade. Just as the Master Sculptor scrapes the clay and molds each defining feature, we must learn to appreciate His work while becoming His work.
Recently, I found myself in the hospital in need of surgery. I had a threatening situation building up inside me and I didn’t even know it. I had no idea what was wrong with me; I was simply suffering from pain.
During my hospital stay I received a lot of poking and prodding from strangers. To my surprise, I was not afraid – I actually felt safe. I knew God put me there for good reason and He was guiding the hands and minds of all of the people around me. Although I knew none of them, God did. He was using these individuals to restore me (and my unborn baby) back into a healthy condition. The situation was unnerving; abdominal surgery on a twenty-six week pregnant woman. Everyone involved was quite nervous, especially the surgeon. I was prepared for the challenge of the immediate difficulty and pain resulting from the surgery. It would only be temporary, while the benefits would be lasting. God was scraping away a portion of my body that needed to go. This was the truth of my situation; feelings and fears could not make this into a dramatic disaster. It was an intimate time with my Father. Here’s a wonderful truth: God is much more focused on us in our trials when we are willing to face Him.
Many of us are so afraid of pain and heartache. We forget that we need only to ask God for help, and He gives it. The problem is: if we are only looking for a way out of the situation, and He wants us in the situation, then we have to learn to submit. This is where many give up. Some of us are so set against trials we would choose to live in sin rather than be stripped and humbled. We do not want to cry out to God for help and the courage to face the trial. We want to hide. Sin is rarely as complicated as we make it out to be and drama can be a great cover for our sin. People feel sorry for us in our trials. But those feelings can keep us from spurring each other on to faithfulness and perseverance or seeking God and asking Him to encourage us while we run His race.
Two of my children ran in a jog-a-thon recently for school. They both won the Endurance Award for their grade level. It was not the Nobel Prize, but it had an impact on me. It made me realize that these trials my husband and I have been going through have a tremendous effect upon our kids. I have been seeing how important it is to handle our trials faithfully. We cannot just say the right words to our children; we have to live faithfully before them. This all depends on the grace of God for us, and in us. My children are learning to endure through difficulties by watching their mom and dad. They are learning how to run the race from us.
So, when things get bumpy, turn to God for your comfort, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
We need to remember that seasons of stripping serve a great purpose: after God strips us of our comforts, He never leaves us bare-naked; but re-clothes us with even greater grace and glory. Praise God for the trials He has brought upon us; and the beauty He is creating in all of us from them.