Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 12, 2014

on trials

Everywhere I turn, I see trials.  It would be a significant list if I just recited the various trials that friends of mine have encountered in the last seven days. I would guess you could create the same kind of list. We all wish for a day, a week, or a month where life was smooth sailing, but life is not like that, and I don’t think it ever will be.  My thoughts for this challenge started with a devotional article that focused on trials. I was furthered challenged in my thinking after reading a very familiar passage of Scripture this past Saturday.

You are no doubt familiar with the story of the feeding of the five thousand from John chapter six. It’s the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels. What a fascinating scene!  Scores of messages have been taught on its significance. However, the events before and after the miraculous feeding are what caused me to reflect a bit deeper on trials. To be perfectly clear, many of the trials we face are from our own making; these kinds are not the purpose of this article.  For all Christ-followers, I would invite you to think for a few moments on the trials that you encounter, but do not create.  I believe they can be looked at as faith-stretchers from the Lord. I submit to you that they probably come regularly, and have a divine purpose. If only we looked at them that way!

Jesus and His disciples were being followed. They crossed the sea and climbed a mountain, yet people pursued them.  When the day was late and Jesus felt the crowd needed feeding, He engaged Philip.

Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
John 6:5b-7

My response to this test would have been very similar. Jesus was testing Philip for a reason, and although it may have been uncomfortable, Philip needed the test. Just like you and I need faith-stretchers today.

Immediately after the miraculous meal, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in a boat and head to the other side of the lake. There is too much in the scene to write about now, but Christ sent the disciples into a storm.

Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
John 6:18-21

Jesus was right there to meet their needs, as He is for us. Our storms may be different from those the disciples faced, but we are often confronted with troubled waters through no fault of our own.  Can you and I accept that our Sovereign God knows what He is doing in our lives?

I have a very sensitive heart for readers that are facing trials they didn’t create.  God, however, in His sovereignty, has allowed you to live with these troubled waters. It seems to me that God chooses for His children to have regular faith-stretchers … we call them trials. My reading caused me to think about His tests for us and how quickly we can be in a storm.  Rather than give you an answer to trials, I’ll leave you with the words from Laura Story’s great song, Blessings, and pray it offers perspective and comfort.

chorus…

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

 the song’s ending…

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

yeam_2014


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