5/31/17 – Pastor Brian’s Blog
Last week I had to go see my doctor and have my blood pressure checked. You must know that although I really like my doctor, I would much rather meet him for lunch than have to meet him at his office!
I arrive at the office and the first question the receptionist at the front desk asks is, “What is your birth date?” reminding me again how old I really am!! After waiting in the waiting area (Did you know they only have medical and children’s magazines to read?), the nurse leads me into the exam room. On the way to the room the doctor’s nurse begins asking me questions and once I am seated continues to bombard me with numerous questions. I finally work through all those questions and then the nurse has the chutzpah to tell me that I have to step on the scales and get weighed. Did I mention that I am only there to have my blood pressure checked! I try to convince her that checking my weight is not really needed at all. After she tells me that this is not optional, I immediately give her what I consider to be very good reasons why I have gained weight since our last visit.
So I have dreaded coming to this doctor’s appointment, I was reminded by the receptionist how old I really am, the nurse asks me far too many questions, then makes me weigh myself and then…. she takes my blood pressure and expects it to be perfect!!
Although going to see my doctor is not something I like to do, I do it because I want to know that I am in good shape, that my heart is working like it is supposed to work. I can tell my doctor that I am in perfect physical condition, that my blood pressure is exactly where it needs to be and my weight is well, a work in progress. Even if I believe what I’m saying is true, the doctor is going to want to do tests to make sure that I am where I need to be physically. And if I fall short, or the tests are not up to his expectations then he will consult with me and tell me what I need to change in order to get better results.
As important as it is to be in good physical shape it is even more important to be in good spiritual shape. Like my doctor who checks my physical heart condition, God also gives us exams to check our spiritual heart condition. And if He finds that we are falling short spiritually, He will give us tests, tests that He calls trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
You and I can have so many Sunday School attendance pins that they drag on the floor. We can be the first one to jump up on Sunday morning and quote the memory verse for the week. We can tell everyone we meet how wonderful we are and how great things are going, we can even participate in spiritually edifying conversations and all the while feel that our spiritual hearts are fine. We can wave our hands when we sing, we can dress correctly and convince people that we are tight with God; and we may even believe it ourselves.
But what is of utmost importance is not what we believe to be true but what God knows to be true. Once God determines that something is wrong, He will often allow a test or a trial to occur in our lives in order to produce an accurate and up-to-the-minute diagnosis. Not for Himself, because He already knows the problem but for us so that we see things as they really are. God desires that we know the truth about ourselves so that we can be become “mature and complete not lacking anything.”
Often God will allow trials, difficulties, even painful circumstances, into our lives as a test in order to reveal, strengthen and develop our hearts for all eternity. As burdensome, formidable and irritating as these trials might seem at the moment, James says “Consider it pure joy” because God is doing a work in our hearts so that we might “be complete lacking nothing.”
Joseph would never have been able to save the birth line of Jesus if it was not for his trial in Egypt. Job would never have been able to experience God as he did if not for his trials. Abraham would never have been the father of the Jewish race if not for his trial with Isaac. Daniel, Paul, Peter, Stephen would never have become the men that God was able to use to help change with world if it was not for the trials God brought into their lives to work on their hearts and mature them.
I am not sure where God has you today or where He may take you tomorrow, but please understand, for God to do His perfect and complete work in and through us, we must become willing to let Him have His way. When we learn to rejoice in our trials and come to understand that our gracious heavenly Father uses them not to harm us but to strengthen and perfect us, we will be motivated to embrace them as beneficial and life changing.
My doctor is really a great guy and I truly like him but the best he can do is to help me live a few extra days here on earth. But God’s tests, not only prepares me to live down here but His tests prepare me for all eternity!
Oh by the way…. Not matter what path you are walking or trial you are experiencing, remember, you never have to walk that path alone….