Be encouraged today like I am with an excerpt from a book titled, “Trusting God,” by Jerry Bridges. He gives a clear picture in how to abide in Christ as we face hardships. Every one of us faces burdens as we navigate through life. Every one of us carries “thorns” in our flesh that God uses to keep us humble. We need reminding often that God is in control and we are not.
On pages 182 and 183 in his book, Jerry explains how there is connection between adversity and holiness. I pray that you allow God to speak to you right in the middle of your afflictions that you carry around daily. I hope that God continues the good work that He began in your heart as He is in mine.
“God, may you continue to lead me forward into your likeness. I carry around a lot of rubbish within my heart and mind that are unfitting for me as Your child. I so want to walk united in love with You, but I keep getting in the way. Change me and bridge the gap between what life throws at me, and Your presence. Amen.”
“For one thing, adversity reveals the corruption of our sinful nature. We do not know ourselves or the depths of sin remaining in us. We agree with the teachings of Scripture and assume that agreement means obedience. At least we intend to obey. Who of us does not read that list of Christian virtues called the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23) – and agree we want all those traits in our lives? We even begin to think we are making good progress in growing in them.
“But then adversity comes. We find we are unable to love, from the depths of our hearts, the person who is the instrument of the adversity. We find we don’t want to forgive that person. We realize that we are not disposed to trust God (emphasis mine). Unbelief and resentment surge within us. We are dismayed at the scene. The growth in Christian character we thought had occurred in our lives seems to vanish like a vapor. We feel as if we are back in spiritual kindergarten again. But through this experience God has revealed to us some of the remaining corruption within us.
“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ (Matthew 5:3-4,6). All of the descriptions refer to the believer who has been humbled over his sinfulness, who mourns because of it, and yearns with all his heart for God to change him (emphasis mine). But no one adopts this attitude without being exposed to the evil and corruption of his own heart. God uses adversity to do this.
“In making us holy, God goes deeper than just specific sins we may be conscious of. He wants to get at the root cause; the corruption of our sinful nature manifested in the rebellion of our wills, the perversity of our affections, and the spiritual ignorance of our minds. God uses adversity to enlighten our minds about our own needs as well as the teachings of Scripture.
“He uses adversity to rein in our affections that have been drawn out to unholy desires and to subdue our stubborn and rebellious wills (emphasis mine).
“But we often resist God’s work in our lives. We shrink from the rod of God’s discipline instead of seeking to profit from it. We are more desirous of relief from the adversity than we are of its profit unto holiness. But as we look to God to use His discipline in our lives, we may be sure it will in due time produce ‘a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:11).”
I don’t know about you, but when I read that for the first time, my soul sat in awe over how my Lord knew that I needed to hear that. How about you? Did you catch the phrase, “seeking to profit from (God’s discipline)?” Who seeks to profit from being convicted and corrected? You realize the depth of your stubborn, rebellious will when you face such truth. It takes God working deep within your heart for this to happen. You cannot muster this up within yourself.
So, when adversity strikes, like your own fleshy ways getting in the way of God’s redemptive work within you, remember that God is allowing turmoil in your life so you will look up and see. You will rise up and know that God is changing you from the inside out to prepare you for His Kingdom. Don’t make the mistake of thinking His Kingdom is for when you arrive in heaven one day. Nope, God needs you to be transforming into His likeness today for His Kingdom is around us right now. He is saving people. He is calling you and me to be His vessels of love so others will, too, say yes to the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.
Today is the day where adversity takes a back seat and holiness steps up to shine. What a beautiful day it is!