When the time comes to leave, God tells us how. He said we should go out with joy and be led out with peace (Is55:12). Yet when I think of the things I often want to leave: a job I’m unsatisfied in, a friendship or relationship that hurts me, etc, it is rare that I have joy and peace in my heart. Usually it’s the exact opposite.
Ps 92:13 “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.”
Although this scripture addresses being planted in God, I found it applies to a lot of areas in my life. When I delight in God’s word in the midst of adversity I can learn to let it mature me instead of stifle me. In the past when I have felt pressure, I looked to God for relief. I wanted Him to take it away, but as I read the book, “The Bait of Satan”, by John Bevere, I’m learning that God puts me in these very uncomfortable circumstances to mature, refine and strengthen me. Sometimes, it’s not yet His time to leave.
1Peter 3:14-16 But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your heart honor Christ the Lord as holy…
Is48:10 I have made you pure, but not by fire; as silver is made pure. I have purified you by giving you troubles.
God asks me if I am willing to listen to Him and wait on His leading. He refines and matures me by increasing the pressure in the areas where I need to grow most, and because I am hard headed, I have seen him do this not only in one area of my life but multiple areas at the same time.
1Peter1:7 These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus is shown to you.
I will grow in my character by obeying wise council in the midst of suffering and by allowing Him to refine me through the difficult situations. In many ways I am learning to embrace this for the first time in my Christian walk as I experience an eerie sort of peace amidst it all. Practically, it’s been about staying at a job I would want to run from and accepting that God is not finished with me being there yet. It’s meant being open and vulnerable to relationships that are not always comfortable, or serving in ways that don’t play to my strengths. It’s meant fighting to surrender my dreams and hope to God in a way I have never surrendered before – with a terrifying promise that I will not move until He does. I will not make the first move. It’s hard to describe, as it’s not a feeling of agreement or even a matter of liking what is happening, I don’t like it. It’s more of a sense of acceptance that this is indeed necessary, and the outcome will be good for me. God only wants our ultimate good.
Ruth 3:18a “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.”
One of the scariest verses in the bible to me is being someone who is “always learning never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Tim 3:7). I love to learn, and share what I am learning. Yet, in order to come to the truth, to a deep conviction, I must apply it, and part of this truth, a very crucial part, is that of suffering and forgiving, acting only on the Spirit’s lead and not on my emotions or intellect.
1Peter 4:1 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
I have not matured in my Christianity when I have disobeyed and rejected suffering. Instead I have tried to fight them by my own strength or run away from them all together. The way I leave one set of circumstances or relationships is the way I enter new ones. If I let go of the past and forgive past sins it frees me to start new, to start differently and not carry over old resentments from my past into new relationships and situations. When I do not do this I end up wrestling with not just the hurts in the new circumstances but also those from the past. If I focus on the common denominator in all of these circumstances, me, I can address what I need to change.
Is43: 18-19 (NCV) “ The Lord says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.”
So in this season of my life I am learning to embrace suffering and discomfort. No seriously, to full-on embrace it, even get excited to see what it will produce. I know that there will be moments, many, many, moments where this will be hard and I will want to take matters into my own hands. I know I will fall short, but I will persevere onto maturity, because I also know if I do not, and I fight God on this He will let me go, but I will not mature or draw closer to Him. I will only be doomed to repeat the same pattern. If I face these things head on, wholeheartedly, they will ultimately bring strength and healing, if I refuse, they will only bring temporary relief.
When Satan asked to sift Peter, Jesus didn’t pray for it not to happen, He prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail during the time of testing, and it didn’t. Peter’s faith was strengthened in unimaginable ways, allowing him to become the incredible man God created him to be and impacted the eternity of so many others. God has the same great plan for each of us, if we let Him complete them in us.
This particular entry is based on a study out of The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere.