Posts Tagged ‘trials’

Changing Seasons

September 26, 2010

It is late September here in New York State.
Acorns are dropping from the trees, leaves are just hinting at changing colours, and coolness is filling the air. Summer is bidding its last farewell as Autumn steadily creeps in.

The crisp change of seasons.

I am sad to see summer go. All the cook-outs and gatherings, all the lemonade and lake side breezes…sigh. But it’s time for the change; it’s how God ordained it.  No matter how hard I fight it, Summer is leaving and Autumn is returning.  God’s ordinance continues on, regardless of what I want. And it is good, in spite of the loss of the warmth and sun.

If the seasons didn’t change from summer into winter the whole world would unravel: Birds wouldn’t be cued to migrate, plants wouldn’t receive their necessary time of dormancy required for optimum health, and certain animals wouldn’t be cued as to when they need to hibernate for their own optimum health.  The changing seasons also cue various sea creatures to migrate to other waters, in effect giving seasonal fishing opportunities to provide employment and food in many places. Winter snow also creates glacial ice in the northern and southern regions, providing a source of freshwater and ground water,  enabling communities to thrive. I could go on and on, but the point is the advance winter is actually a necessary part of a global system that thrives. Winter has a lot of value, in spite of its cold, bleak, sad appearance.

And there is a lesson to find in this: God foreknew the need for a dormant, bleak,  time of year. He foreknew the effects of winter upon the earth and how it actually has huge benefits in spite of the discomforts it brings. And He doesn’t take away the discomfort primarily because of those very benefits that we experience.

In the changing “seasons” of our lives, we also experiences “summers” (weddings, births, graduations, achievements, etc.) as well as “winters” (accidents, failures, mistakes, etc.). Although our “winters” are very uncomfortable, God sees that they are still important for our mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Our faith cannot be tried, our trust in Him cannot be strengthened, and our victories over evil cannot happen if we never experience the “winters”.

Thus, even in the most trying of circumstances, God doesn’t take away all the discomfort. We need our “winters” if we’re ever to be a strong soldier in His Kingdom. However, it is equally important to remember that, although He allows the “winter”, He does not abandon us. He is our warm, cozy cabin with a crackling fireplace in the midst of that terrible winter season.

When “winter” happens to you, walk up to His cabin and ask for His warmth. Although He may not take away your winter season, He will still be your quiet refuge from the biting winds and the nipping frost. Just as He won’t lock you outside in the frozen blizzard where you may be tempted to succumb to the cold, likewise He will not let you endure more than you can bear in your life’s winter seasons (1 Corinthians 10:13).

May His peace continue with you.

Trial, Or Consequence?

September 18, 2010

Your future heart attack:
You knew eating high fat food was terrible for you, but you ate it all the time anyway. You knew your sedentary lifestyle was also terrible for you, but you never got around to exercising. You deliberately avoided getting your cholesterol levels checked because you were afraid of what it would show. And now you’re in the emergency room with a full blown hear attack trying to not die, and your family is wringing their hands in desperate worry.
CONSEQUENCE.

Your future car accident:
A drunk driver rammed into you. You are now in the hospital, in surgery, getting assorted organs repaired and bones re-set. You will endure a painful recovery complete with at least six months of rehab. You cannot work at your employment in the meanitme, meaning this is a huge financial blow to your family.
TRIAL

Your future lung cancer:
You knew all the warnings about tobacco and cancer, but you continued to smoke anyway. You knew about all the products designed to help you quit, but you refused them. And now you’re in a hospice room, breathing your last few breaths because lung cancer ambushed your perfect life.
CONSEQUENCE

Your future home foreclosure:
You had a great job and thus bought a good home for you, your wife and your kids. A few years later your employer goes bankrupt and you’re out of a job. Now your wife has to work a part time job at McDonald’s while you end up slaving away 40 hours per week in a low paying job as you continue to seek a better paying job. You cannot keep up with the house payments and end up moving in with your brother’s family until you can get back on your feet.
TRIAL.

Your future birthday party:
Your friends decide to celebrate your  milestone birthday by taking you out to a local bar. You have a few too many drinks. You vomit on another bar patron. A fight ensues. You wake up the next morning stinking of booze breath, with a fat lip and black eye,  in the county jail.
CONSEQUENCE

Your future family dinner:
For fun you take your wife and kids out to a restaurant for supper. The next day you are terribly sick  and with a high fever; you end up in the emergency room with a raging case of E.Coli. You are hospitalized for the next week due to the contaminted food you ate at the restaurant.
TRIAL

Do you see the differences here?

TRIALS are the things that happen to you when you are unaware of the dangers, or when you are forced into a situation.
CONSEQUENCES are what happens to you when you are aware of the dangers but choose to ignore them.

Although God realizes that we have bad judgment at times and make the wrong choices in spite of knowledge, He isn’t obligated to save us from ourselves. The Bible clearly states that we should not test God by acting recklessly (Matthew 4:5-7 ), and that we should expect direct consequences for our actions (Galatians 6:7-8). The Bible also warns that bad decisions on one’s part can end in death (Proverbs 1:32, 14:12, 16:25 ).

As for trials, on the other hand, The Bible makes a difference: In cases where believers are unaware or are forced into a situation God was willing to come to the rescue (Genesis 19:1-21, Daniel 3,  Acts 5:18-19)

Therefore, when something bad happens to you it’s very important to consider whether you brought it upon yourself, or if it was a situation out of your control.

If you find that you have indeed brought it upon yourself we strongly encourage you to ask for forgiveness and repent of your error. You may still have to endure the consequences (just like David did when the Bath-Sheba “thing” happened), but God will have not forgotten you.
If, on the other hand, you know it’s a trial that you had no control over we still strongly encourage you to seek God, for that is where your strength and help will come from. Take His hand and He will guide you through the dark and back into the light. (Satan does love to block the light with his darkness, don’t let him win!)

The gist of the matter is this: Please be aware of the differences between trials and consequences, and act with wisdom when it comes to situations involving consequences, and pray for forgiveness (and yes, we’ve all had our stupid “consequence” moments!). And if you are in the midst of a trial, continue to act with wisdom as you lean on God for help. But either way, if you lean on God, He does not leave you.

Amen, and peace.

(With a nod to Dr. James McDonald, who covered this type of thing in a radio sermon a little while ago)


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