Embrace Trials

I have a bad habit when in difficulty of giving myself permission to behave badly. Paul underwent far greater difficulties. His account of ship wrecks, beatings, facing wild animals and the like make anything I face seem trivial.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. [2 Corinthians 4:8-9NIV]

Yet Paul, instead of using them to excuse bad behaviour saw them as an opportunity to discover the amazing extent of God’s grace.

we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. [2 Corinthians 4:7NIV]

Paul recognises he is not up to the trials, but he does not give up and make everyone else suffer. He prays and looks forward to how God will carry him through.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, [2 Corinthians 4:10NIV]

Paul understood these trials as a participation in the death of Christ. As we are joined with Jesus in his suffering, we are also joined with him in God’s power.

so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

Jesus does not give immunity from trials but hope in himself. Can we seek him and faithfully endure as we wait for him to intervene? At the far end, looking back, we will realise that we were not up to it, but that he brought us through.

God’s power

Crises ask, ‘Do I believe God for his goodness and power?’ Feeling powerless challenges my attitudes both to God and to what I want from him.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3-NIV)

The constraint on God’s power is not in God, nor my ability to summon power, but in my knowledge of him. When I am willing to be developed, he provides a crisis where I am confronted with a Jesus I do not know. Am I willing to trust him for situations beyond my experience of him?

We see this in the interactions Jesus had around his miracles. He discusses with the person what they believed about him. It would seem he does not allow the person to be a passive recipient of God’s grace, He challenges them to stretch out and risk their understanding of God’s goodness.

The next verse points out the eternal significance

 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4 NIV)

Power is not merely to fix our situation. It transforms us as we work out his purposes together. He wants us to know him and trust him so that we can release the corrupting drives that fester within.