9am this morning found Jonathan at a local dentist’s surgery in need of emergency tooth-fixing. He was fixed, and his mouth as well as his wallet are feeling the pain.
Yet another drama amidst our ongoing challenges of the last year. And my instinctive response to it all is ‘Aren’t we done yet? Surely there can’t be more?!’
But I’ve been reminded again and again this week that trials aren’t just to be endured, but are to be enlisted. They aren’t to master us, but to serve us as they make us stronger in faith. Whether it’s been through an old Wiersbe sermon, an article sent by a friend, a book on John Newton that I’m reading…my instinctive response is being challenged. While the emotional buffeting of the storms can’t be avoided, there can be a bottom line of thought and reason that runs steadily alongside the rollercoaster.
The reasoning might well seem topsy turvy, and indeed unreasonable, if you don’t know Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible, who is perfect in strength and grace and love. Throughout the Bible, we see again and again that we need this Jesus because while He is strong, we are weak; while He is without sin, we are full of it; while He lovingly rescues, we wander blindly, unable to sort ourselves out.
While I know I need Jesus – that’s what prompted me to faith in Him – it’s easy to forget. I plough on under my own steam, meandering and muddling on as if I don’t have the creator of the Universe pointing out the best way.
The meandering and the muddling in my own strength comes unstuck when trials hit. Self-sufficiency fails because I am not sufficient.
And yet Christ is.
In a letter to the Corinthians in the Bible, Paul writes of his own trials and suffering being the means for Christ’s sufficient grace to be seen. In Paul’s weakness, God’s power is all the more evident. It means he can say – and we can say – ‘when I am weak, then I am strong’.
Amidst the trials, and the ongoing challenges of life at the moment, we feel weak. And yet in that weakness, we are pushed to depend on our mighty, strong and loving God all the more. And so we are strong.
I’m praying that, while tears are a reality, we could be thankful for the ways the trials and challenges are growing us in faith – keeping us dependent on our mighty God above all else and so making us strong in Him.
‘Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [his thorn of suffering]. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Cor 12v8-10)
(I guess this logic should almost make us worry for when the trials stop…!)