Trials to Perfection

11 Sep

The old maxim warns us, “Be careful what you ask for.” At times it seems like traumatic events pile up on me when I ask for God to draw near to me and draw me nearer to him. You probably know what I’m talking about. I want more of his joy. I want to sense his presence and feel his arms wrapped around me, holding me, letting me know I’m doing good. I want my heart to be increasing in love and purity.

In response to my prayers, I have, at times, felt swept up into heights of praise and worship—only to be placed in a crucible and ground with the pestle of life’s adversity. Other times, I’m moved from crucible to pot for boiling out more dross.

Painful Reminder

While sitting in my crucible this week, I started a new discipline called bullet journaling. The journaling training encouraged writing down one thing I am thankful for before doing anything else. On the reserved spot on my sheet of paper I wrote, “Trials: they remind me Jesus is still working in my life.” It’s good to know he hasn’t given up on me, and I’m reminded in his word that he never will. I don’t enjoy the purifying process, but I thank Jesus for it.

Followed by Awe-filled Hope

Then I opened my digital Bible to read, and the verse of the day drove home to me Jesus’s word for me. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 says, “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”

Read that verse again. Consider the powerful words in it. It is an expectant prayer to the Creator of all that exists. We can not only ask, but also know he will be intimately at work in our lives—whether in world events or our individual needs. He will give direction and purpose. That purpose involves his immeasurable love and the patience (endurance, steadfastness) of Christ.

Sometimes the Small Stuff Is Most Important

But the biggest word (at least the word that grabbed me) in the verse was “into.” God Almighty directs us into. This into is not like getting a seat in the nosebleed section of an arena where is love and patience is being displayed. It’s neither the front row seats. It’s not even a backstage pass where we can stand nearby or even shake his hand. Paul’s prayer is for us to be directed into more of Jesus.

This prayer was written to the church in Thessalonica. Paul had to flee the city after spending a shortened time with them because the Jews stirred up the people. Elsewhere Christians were suffering for their faith. So, the heart of the letter is to affirm the gospel as it had been first given to them and to assure the young church of Jesus’s return and faithfulness.

Dive In

Our need for such comfort is no less now than for those in the first century church. We need both his love and his patience in every life experience. And we need to let that comfort we receive flow out to those around us. Jesus said unbelievers will know we are his disciples because of the love (his perfect love) we have for one another. Let’s immerse ourselves in it. Absorb it into every fiber, every dark corner, and then put that love on display to those near us.

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