Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
SEVEN STEPS WHEN FACING A TRIAL
“Brrrring”, I picked up the phone. “Hello, Sam? This is Bill.”
His voice was weak. I knew he was calling from the hospital, fighting his third battle with cancer and things didn't look good. His words were faint and feeble as he gasped for air. “The doctors say they've done all they can for me and are sending me home Monday. I guess to die.”
“Well, how do you feel about going to be with the Lord?”
“I'm scared, Sam. I'm afraid to face Him.”
“Brother, how can I help?”
“I've wasted my life. I have not lived for Him as I should. I have worked to get ahead in the world and good times. I have almost nothing to show for my time on earth. I know I'm going to be standing before Him real soon, and I dread what He's going to say to me.”
WHAT A SAD THING
It hurts God to have any of His children go out of this life as Bill. You expect most believers to be happy at the thought of leaving this life and being with Jesus. The Lord is not going to reward people for living for themselves instead of living for Him. The hard truth is—the place we give the Lord Jesus in this life, determines the place He will give us in the next. Our Savior knows it is hard to serve a Lord we cannot see. The old adage. . . "Out of sight, out of mind," holds true for the believer. But the Lord has a way of helping us. He uses the devil. You laugh. But listen, God could destroy Satan with a single word, but He has not. He permits the devil to remain on the scene to afflict us.
THIS IS HOW GOD HELPS US
There are no accidents in the life of a Christian. Every evil, hurtful, and stressful thing that happens to us, God arranges or allows for our benefit. So He uses Satan to prod us and make us look to Him for help. You see, you cannot be an overcomer without something to overcome, and the devil can give us plenty to overcome.
Of course, if we choose to go our own way, the Lord will let us. He will not touch our wills, but we know by experience our bodies and wallets can take a beating. Did you know that we Christians are like teabags? That's right, teabags. We don't come to full strength unless we're in hot water. You can smile at that, but it's true.
OF COURSE, IT'S TRUE
Do we really pay any attention to the Bible passages which tell us that suffering and trials are normal for Christians? When we hear, for example:
"For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1:29. Do we take it seriously? Or again, Peter's word to troubled believers. "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Rejoice? That is the last thing we do. We are more apt to complain and cry for relief. We are not a bit joyful when sicknesses strike our bodies, when financial pressures mount, or our marriages are in trouble. We want God to remedy the situation—right now. Though we all agree there are no accidents in the Christian's life, it does not occur to us somehow that our present difficulty is part of His plan. So we beg God to take away the very thing He has allowed!
DON'T ROCK THE BOAT!
We resent anything that upsets our routine or peace of mind. We are so locked into this attitude that we RESIST CHANGE. Left to ourselves WE WOULD NEVER CHANGE. To our thinking, good health, some money on hand, and time to enjoy it, is the only way to live. So we settle into the routine of three meals a day, on the job, and back to bed. In the process we build houses and raise families, hoping to go through life as comfortably as possible. The sad thing is we do not grow. And growing into the likeness of His Son is the name of the game, as far as God is concerned (Rom. 8:29).
Most of us can look back and see how the greatest changes in our lives came at a time of crisis. We do not like sickness, disappointments, and tragedies, but God knows they are necessary, so He allows them.
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDE?
"It's not the force of the gale but the cut of the sail, that determines the way we go."—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Heard that before? With its sail set properly, a ship can USE the fiercest wind to reach its destination quickly. It is not the force of the wind that makes the difference, but what a seaman does with it. So it is with trouble in our lives. It is NOT the severity of the trial that determines what happens to us, but our attitude toward it.
If we have the right attitude, we can make dramatic changes into the likeness of Christ. Here are seven steps to follow when a trial is sent into your life:
1. When a crisis comes, acknowledge that the Lord is trying to get your attention. He is forcing you to consider HIS plan for your life.
2. Assume the trial is no accident, that it is indeed from the Lord. That shifts your eyes from your circumstances to the Lord.
3. By faith, thank Him for the trial. This is your way of acknowledging that your life is in His hands. Anyone who loves you as much as He does will never hurt you.
4. Ask the Lord for wisdom to SEE what He is trying to teach you (James 1:5). The battle is half won once you see the change God is after.
5. Be cheerful in your situation. Sad complaints to others are really expressions of doubt in the Lord's wisdom and goodness.
6. Tell God you are WILLING to make changes; that you want to be like Jesus no matter what the cost. Then, as you see the change God is after, go to work on it.
7. As you feel the pain of reaching for maturity, remember this: "When I am getting the WORST of it, God is making the MOST of it, to see that I get the BEST of it."
"In EVERYTHING," says the apostle Paul, "give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18). It thrills God for us to praise Him when things "go wrong." If we consider that God is preparing us for unspeakable joy, we will find that we CAN rejoice in a tragic situation.
YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS
I know the Spirit can bear witness that the name of the game is CHANGE. We have got to grow NOW—tomorrow may be too late. There are no make-up classes in Christianity. We enter heaven just as we are at the point of death AND NEVER CHANGE. If we want to grow in the likeness of the Lord it has to be in THIS LIFE. Once we leave this world, the conditions for change (as we know it) simply do not exist.
Where we are going there will be no tears, pain, or sorrow of any kind (Rev. 21:4). There will be no devil to tempt us, no hurt to forgive, no anxiety to conquer with patience, no way to become long-suffering. One must suffer a long time to develop that grace. Thus, the conditions for growth into Jesus' likeness simply do not exist in heaven. The time is now. And why is it so important? When we stand before Jesus at His Judgment Seat, our maturity will be assessed, and we will be assigned a position in His kingdom based on that assessment. Put another way, the evaluation of our growth here determines our eternal job there. Our growth, you see, is actually our capacity for Christ.
Your biggest thrill will come when you discover that with GOD—trying is winning! So the next time trouble strikes, you will say. . .
PRAISE THE LORD!
C. S. Lovett
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