First of all, an apology is in order. When I began this blog I had all intentions to write for it regularly, and since starting it in October, I have written a grand total of three posts. However, some of you are still following along, and for that I am grateful! My New Year’s Resolution is to write here much more regularly, so here’s to hoping that happens.
I thought it would be fitting to begin the new year with a post about last year. Some of you will relate to my year, and some of you will not. However, I can assure you that they were similar some regard. My year, as many of you know, is not one of the fondest to me. In fact, if I were to judge it solely on the events of my life in 2013, it would probably be one of the worst I’ve ever had. On the other hand, parts of 2013 were wonderful. And many of you recall 2013 as a great year. I hope that’s the case for you! In any case, these things were true about 2013: God is still reigning. God is still sovereign. God is still drawing people to Himself, and is therefore still bringing glory to Himself.
Isn’t that great news? In any case, whether moments of trial or moments of treasure, our God is still a God that will get glory. I am writing this post with my hometown in mind. My small hometown in Georgia has been through a fairly consistent stream of heartache recently. From the deaths of people that we loved dearly to accidents of various kinds, my hometown has certainly seen trial. In fact, if you are reading this as a citizen of LaGrange, GA, you have probably been through your fair share of hard times in the past year. If you are reading this and have lost a loved one or have experienced some other kind of tragedy, please bear with me. I’m getting there.
Broader scope. Whether your year was phenomenal or terrible, you have inevitably experienced some sort of trial in the past year, or possibly early in this year. Here’s my point here. In good times and bad, we serve a glorious, glorious God. And for the believer, it is a glory that we are called to hope in. In fact, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, addresses suffering and this “hope in the glory of God” in the same thought! Romans 5 says this:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For quite some time this has been one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Isn’t it so interesting that Paul connects suffering to hope? Not only that, but he says we can rejoice in both our hope and our suffering. It’s so different than our thinking isn’t it? In the midst of our suffering and trials, we get this promise of the glory of God. Something that we have seen in part, but not yet in full. But we will see it in full. And that’s what gives us hope.
Friends if you are reading this and are currently suffering, I would like to share this quote from the great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon with you:
“Does a man know any gospel truth aright till he knows it by experience? Is not this the reason why God’s servants are made to pass through so many trials, that they may really learn many truths not otherwise to be apprehended? Do we learn much in sunny weather? Do we not profit most in stormy times? Have you not found it so — that your sick-bed — your bereavement — your depression of spirit, has instructed you in many matters which tranquility and delight have never whispered to you? I suppose we ought: to learn as much by joy as by sorrow, and I hope that many of my Lord’s better servants do so; but, alas! others of us do not; affliction has to be called in to whip the lesson into us.”
The Lord teaches us in the trials. Perhaps He’s trying to teach you something even now. When I recall 2013, I know that it was a hard year, but it was also one of the most formative years in my faith. Perhaps it was one of yours too! God used my suffering to teach me about how the believer should behave in hard times. He taught me about how good He is, no matter what the circumstance. And most importantly, He continues to teach me about His glory. What an awesome God we serve!
If you are reading this as a follower of Jesus, please know that the God who saved you delights in you even in times that are difficult. May the God of the trials use those trials to teach you even more about how great He is. And remember, all of your affliction is brief and momentary.
If you are reading this and you are not a follower of Jesus, please know that there is a God who delights in you, and desires for you to come to Him. If you have questions about that please don’t hesitate to ask me.
Our God is the God of the good times and the bad. Praise be to the One True God, who glorifies Himself even more in the hard places.
Grace and Peace,