Monday, September 10, 2012

The blessing of fire

On my way home from yet another disappointing job interview (complete with pouring rain and semi-bleak thoughts for company), I got around to thinking why some people are blessed with a smooth and relatively "painless" stay with only minor bumps in the road, while others are blessed (yes, I still say BLESSED) with fire, storms, and all imaginable kinds of challenges.

The first reaction is always, "Why me? I don't deserve this!" 

Perfectly legitimate question to ask. And in all my 27 years of existence, I have yet to find an answer that will suffice. 

I don't have an answer to the "Why me, I don't deserve this" part. What I do know is that we are burned, drowned, shaken, and allowed to feel pain because of one of two things: one, it may be a consequence of a past action or decision (now come back to bite you in the ass); or two, God allows it to test you and refine you, with the ultimate goal of making you more like His Son. 

I have learned that it is not a question of being fair, nor is it a question of who is deserving of what. God tested Job to see if he would remain faithful even when everything was taken from him. For all his ranting and reason to fall away (come on, Satan infected him with boils, caused his entire family to die and took away all his riches and possessions), he did not. God chose to save the city of Nineveh (something which the prophet Jonah greatly resented, because according to him, they were a sinful bunch anyway) despite them being "not deserving". God rescued Israel time and time again, despite their blatant disobedience and rebellion, whenever they would cry out to Him for help. So if it is only a question of being deserving, none of us deserve the grace of salvation, because we all fall short.

Coming out of a very bad year changed a lot of things, mostly my perspective. I have realized and come to accept that as long as I live in this world, trouble will ALWAYS exist. It is inescapable, so I might as well learn to live with it. Once I finally got it in my head that this world we live in is fallen, broken, deeply damaged, and in desperate need of a Savior (what else would you expect from a world ruled by the prince of darkness?), it became somewhat easier to accept that trouble would come, in one form or another, at some point or another. It may be a Job-like scenario, wherein Satan asks permission to test you; it may be a test allowed by Father to refine you and help you grow; it may be the consequences of our decisions or actions in the past.

You rant, you whine, you cry. You lash out at the universe and yell, "What did I do to deserve this?" More than the solution, the way we face the fire is just as important. There are only two options: run to God, or run away from Him and allow the trouble to drown you, pull you down, and destroy you, and then you blame God when everything is gone. More often than not, I took the latter path. I'd drown to the point of blacking out, and when I was completely lost, I would lash out and get mad at God. And then when I was completely lost, that was the only time I'd even consider Him as the solution. 

I am no expert in facing the challenges of life. If anything, I am a work in progress. I mess up and fall away and I forget just about everything His Word has promised me. I become a dark shadow of what I am supposed to be. I let Father down on a daily basis. It is only the miracle of His grace that I am still here.

I guess the whole point of this post is to encourage my fellows in arms, my brothers and sisters, and just about anyone undergoing fire. I know what it's like. I've been there. Sometimes I get pulled back. Just when you think you finally got it, well, life suddenly throws you off balance and it's time for you to level up. 

Leveling up is, perhaps, the single hardest thing to accept and go through in any Christian's life. But I do know, the rewards are eternal. So please, hang on, and do not fall away, not for anything.

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