When I was young I refused to follow the path which my parents had chosen. They were missionaries. They had gone through many trials, which sometimes seemed unbearable in my view. I remember promising myself that I would never be a missionary. My goal at the time was to find a place where I could stay forever and never be uprooted again.
My parent’s love and prayers sustained me through my rebellious anger and through the pain of constantly being uprooted. God’s purpose for my life gradually became apparent. I would never be a copy of my parents. God never creates duplicates. God has an individual plan and purpose for each one of us, for every new child that is born into this world.
God created man in His own image. He inspired writers through the ages to express his plan. We can find a record of his intent which spans from eternity to eternity in the Bible. Our life in this world is short seen from this perspective. It is crucial to focus on the goal He has for us, whatever trials we might have to face.
Anyone who has a goal in sight strives to achieve it, whether it involves education, music, sport, a career or family. Everything has its specified time. Yet, our life does not consist only of what is visible.
“He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Apostle Paul had a goal. He wrote:
“I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14
He also wrote after going through much suffering and many trials:
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Hebrews 11 lists many people who received the testimony of God regarding their faith:
“The world did not deserve to accommodate them… And though all these had received the testimony that they believed they did not get what was promised. For God has predestined: first together with us, they will reach the goal.”
The first verses of Hebrews 12 encourage us:
“Let the thought of the heroes of all these faiths spur us. And let’s get rid of everything that stops us and holds us back, especially the sin that wants to get hold of us and make us fall. Let us run with perseverance in the way we have before us. Look at Jesus, who has shown us the path of faith and wants to help us reach the goal. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because he knew what joy he would win afterward. Now he sits in the honor of God’s faith. Think of the patience he had. Then you do not have to lose courage or get tired.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
These lines in 1 Peter reassure us about trials:
“Dear friends don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13
We confess we are reluctant and fearful to encounter adversity and trials, knowing they are often more than we feel we can bear. Help us remember that you walk with us through the fire, and though we might emerge singed from the flames, we’re unharmed and safe because of your continual presence with us.
It’s even harder for us to see how you use trials to shape us into the people we need to be, to draw forth spiritual fruit, increase our dependence on you and grow our faith. So we ask that you will grant us a glimpse of these things to encourage our weary hearts.
May we, like Jesus, be prepared to face trials and tribulations for the joy set before us, the holy joy that inexplicably lies on the other side of our troubles and afflictions, and which we are given a foretaste of as we rest and trust in you.
Thank you for the comfort, mercy, guidance and grace you provide through Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, and the way you keep us on track when we are tempted to turn back or run away from life’s difficulties or fail to see or sense your hand at work.
“He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us.” – Micah 7:18-19, NKJ
____Lisa E, for the Beloved Prodigal team___