There are certain scriptures that I have a tendency to cringe when reading. It’s the ones I pray a friend doesn’t text me and tell me came to mind when they were praying for me. It’s the ones I like to speed read through when they come up during my time with God. For me, the “cringe” scriptures have usually involved suffering.
Sometimes as believers, we have a subtle belief that once we surrender our lives to God, everything should be smooth sailing. When we go to church, we put on the happy face. Admitting things aren’t sparkling clean at home and we are struggling deeply would somehow betray the person we are now supposed to be. We’re not supposed to go through stuff now. Don’t we obtain a new superhero power upon salvation to have perfect lives?
Several months ago, there were two scriptures that God kept bringing to my attention repeatedly. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, to my dismay, they involved suffering.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 NIV
God has a funny way with me of making sure I don’t ignore the message He wants to give me. I would turn on the radio and whoever was talking would be discussing those scriptures. I’d sit down to spend time with God, and that would be ringing through my head. I’m a bit slow on getting the message sometimes, but eventually, I asked God what He wanted to speak to me through those verses.
And He sent me to a dictionary.
I started looking up key words in those verses and all seemed fine and normal until I came to “perseverance.” The definition leaped off the page, “remaining in a state of grace until death.”
Dots started to connect for me. We don’t rejoice when suffering comes because we love suffering. That would be weird. We rejoice because of what suffering produces. Suffering produces perseverance – which is a place of relying on God’s grace completely. It causes our dependence and need for God to increase which also increases the opportunity to see His grace (empowerment and favor) abound.
Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Set Up For A Miracle
The struggles I’m facing are simply the entry door for the grace and power of God. The hard stuff I can’t get away from is the set up for a miracle – either within me or within my circumstances (and sometimes both!!) I can rejoice in that.
When I experience anxiety and stress, there is an open door for the grace of God where I can receive supernatural peace in spite of my circumstances. In my weakness, when I finally admit my need and dependence on God, His grace brings power. When finances are tight, there is a launching pad for God’s provision and for my perspective on finances to change to look like His Kingdom. When I don’t know what to do, there is a beautiful opportunity to hear the voice of God.
I don’t have to “persevere” through struggles in the sense of gritting my teeth and barely making it through by my effort. I have the privilege to “persevere” by receiving God’s grace and allowing Him to carry me through. In His version of persevering, I get to experience intimacy with the creator of the universe and to see His power explode in my life. What a privilege! And don’t worry, if you text me one of those scriptures now, I won’t panic. I’ll celebrate the opportunity to witness a miracle.
Has God carried you through a time of weakness or suffering? I’d love to hear about His grace in action in your life!