There has been a theme lately in my Pilgrim’s devotional that tries to redirect our focus on the here and now towards the there and then, from that of the earth to that of heaven. I guess it’s pretty easy to understand this, conceptually, but it is quite another thing to put it in practice. It’s also much easier to give this advice to those who obviously need it but very difficult to see the need ourselves. “My” circumstance somehow is different.
Of course, it isn’t. Why, then, is it so hard to see? Why is it so hard to look beyond this world to see the next?
I suppose it’s because we lose sight of Jesus, not all at once, but little by little. This is easy to do when things are calm. One may say it is natural, but I think that is incorrect. God designed us to be drawn to him. This is what is natural. What is NOT natural is that we desire other things. This is the fallen nature of man; and even though I am a new creation, I still have some of that unnatural desire to turn from God toward anything else.
What brings us back? Adversity. That’s the spiritual defibrillator God uses to snap us back to attention. Adversity is what drives us to our knees. It’s what causes us to cry out to God. It’s exactly what we need to snap us out of our love of the world. The problem is that we are slow to recognize this. So slow that sometimes we need another blast from the defibrillator. And another. Back to back to back and then some.
One might think that there are times when innocent bystanders are affected by adversity. What then? Well, I am quite certain that God already knows who all will be affected. Yes, we may receive shrapnel from someone else’s blast, but God has a purpose when it touches us. What might that be? To turn our eyes to him.
When we really stop to think about it, we can begin to understand the wisdom in what James wrote:
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Steadfast: resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.
Adversity isn’t going away, not until that day that God removes it forever – and that day WILL come. Perhaps we may even experience MORE adversity the closer we walk with Jesus. However, I think it is reasonable to assume that we can receive fewer and fewer “corrective” trials when we are tight with Jesus. The ones we do experience can then be viewed in the joy of the Lord. Think about it. Would you rather be one of the disciples who are panicking because of the storm or Jesus who was sleeping at the bow of the boat during it? Jesus was steadfast. I’m thinking that would be a nice compliment for me. Steadfast.
Father, your wisdom is so simple yet so vast. I desire to be steadfast. Teach this to me. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers