Letting Patience Have Her Perfect Work…

The last couple of weeks have been busy, and I have been neglecting writing here as well as my personal Bible study (not for this site or the book I’m writing). I say neglecting it and not that I was too busy because that really hasn’t been the case. I’ve had to repent of that and come back refocused. In this period of busy-ness, I’ve had a few moments along the way that I wanted to share with you all.

After a particularly long Friday at work, I came home to an email from my graphic designer with his first revision to my logo/header and it is AMAZING! He is tweaking a couple of things, but the design is far better than I ever could have imagined, and I’m so pleased with what he has come up with so far. I can’t wait to reveal the header and do a whole post about working with this amazing designer. As someone who spends a lot of time attempting to make myself clear to people, I really appreciate when someone gets my vision right away and supports it, taking it to the next level. That email really made my Friday.

On Sunday, I met a visitor who was looking for a church home in the area. Another sister and I were able to take her out for ice cream after church. Not only was I excited to have the opportunity to visit with her, I found her to be incredibly funny and so genuine. We had a great time together. I’ve been missing that connection with other young women lately as everyone’s lives are changing and we don’t get to see each other very often. I love gathering with other Christian women and having a good time just being ourselves, and I was so grateful to have been invited, to show this new to us sister who I really am as a person.

None of this has anything to do with the title of this post. The reason for the title is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I was thinking about how hard it can get for us to trust and believe God when the events of our lives or the lives of the ones we love aren’t going the way that we feel they should. I’m talking about when we have faith, an active faith, and we are striving to live for Christ, but things just keep happening that keep us from progressing in an area. I’ve seen how this wearies people. Scratch that. I’ve experienced how that can test your faith. It’s like when you spend months paying everything down so that you can get something you want, and just when you are within reach of your goal, something happens that knocks you down the ladder a few rungs. The first couple of times, you take it in stride, but after so many times, you can be tempted to give up. You start to wonder what you are supposed to learn, what this is supposed to accomplish.

Whether for you it is a financial goal, or you are trying to fight a particular sin that has become a stronghold in your life like gossiping or fornication, it is discouraging when you are trying to do what you know God will have you to do in the face of adversity and you are still failing to reach your goals or accomplish things. It feels even worse when you aren’t struggling with a sin but still just can’t seem to progress. Not only that, in the book of James, we are told to count it all joy, or be joyous and excited when we go through tribulations, knowing that the trying of our faith brings about patience.

I’ve given you two examples of things that were joyous or exciting this past weekend, and neither of those things involve tribulations. When was the last time you faced trials and tribulations and went “Yes, God! This is exactly what I need! I’m finally going to receive patience! I’m so excited to exemplify Christ to those around me who will see me going through these trials! Thank you Father for choosing me; I’ve been waiting for you to choose me”? Anyone?

But it doesn’t stop there. We are admonished (urged) to let patience finish her work in us to make us mature, lacking nothing. The whole point of this can be summed up in two words: grow up! Hmm, that sounded harsh. I didn’t mean it to be harsh. I meant it to be emphatic.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a workout class or done a very intense workout video, but when they get to  high intensity interval training (HIIT), they really have to encourage me. “Stay right there!” “Keep pushing!” “Don’t stop!” When I feel that burn, I want to stop, to tag out, to say “this is for the birds” and stop. I want to take a moment to breathe. But what any good instructor will tell you is that shaking is good; burning is good. Burning means that you are getting toxins and fat out of your body. Shaking means the muscles are working hard. If God is going to get all of the toxins and impurities out of our character, He’s going to have to push us past where we want to go. Unlike some fitness instructors I’ve had, He knows when to give us a break, just how hard to push, what we can bear.

I’ve been seeing some people who are having going through many different trials and it is hard to watch. I know they are feeling fatigue, shaking and burning, and I want nothing more than to help them out. But the very best advice I could give them is to stay there; keep going. I know you don’t want to hear me telling you to pray or read your Bible. I know you’ve done that already and you are still in the same place. I know you don’t understand what God is doing and you wish He would just tell you, but there’s no way to become mature and complete, to grow strong, unless you’re tested. We can get so angry and upset when God is doing things for our own good if we don’t understand why. So for everyone who asks if it is fair that I work this hard and try to live right and I still haven’t been able to reach a certain goal or acquire a certain thing, I have to say it is fair. For everyone who wants to know why things are happening to you, there are only two reasons: consequences of sin  or the trying of your faith. If it’s the former, repent. Turn away from your sinful behavior and turn towards God. If it’s the latter, continue believing God and endure so that you earn your crown. I know it’s easier said than done, but what’s the alternative?

This is meant to be encouraging. You aren’t always going through things because you’ve done something wrong; sometimes you are going through things to help you become even better, to trust God even more. Don’t be a fair weather Christian who leaves God whenever He requires more of you.

Be blessed,

Erica

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