Ever have the feeling that God is sending you a message? “Things” converge in your life in such a way that it’s hard to miss. Sometimes, He just piles it on! God does this from time to time in the lives of His children, and I love it when it happens. And right now, I think the Holy Spirit is sending the South Baptist Church family a message. What is it, you ask? Well, I think God is trying to reshape our perspectives on problems, suffering, and trials. By way of evidence, I submit to you the following 4 things:
This morning, I read this:
“More than anything else could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials (Romans 5:1-5). The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ. Preaching the gospel to myself each day provides a lens through which I can view my trials in this way and see the true cause for rejoicing that exists in them. I can then embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God’s good work in me.”
(From the book, A Gospel Primer for Christians, by Milton Vincent, pages 31-32)
In the series “#struggles” on Sunday mornings, Pastor Scott is helping us to gain new perspective on the struggles we face by reminding us that the Bible is filled with struggling people. And a lot of them faced a lot more difficult struggles than I ever will (I’m hoping I can get through my life without being stoned like the Apostle Paul!)! It’s encouraging and helpful to see how God helped these people through their struggles and to know He will help me and you. If you’ve missed any of the messages in the #struggles series, you can either listen or watch them by going to our website: https://sbcflint.org/sermon-series/struggles
In our Life Groups, we’ve been watching a 3-part series by Andy Stanley called, “When God?”. It’s all about our attitudes when God seems to be inattentive, uncooperative, or late. This past Sunday night, here were some of the powerful statements that are challenging my attitudes about struggles:
- “God’s lack of cooperation is NOT an argument for or against His existence.”
- “God may choose to showcase His power on the stage of my weakness.”
- “You can’t experience God’s sustaining grace as long as you are resisting His will.”
- “Sustaining grace begins with the prayer, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.'”
If you are not in a Life Group and are struggling with your attitude toward God during your struggles, I encourage you to watch Andy Stanley’s series on RightNow Media (RNM). Check it out! (If you are part of the South Baptist Church family and don’t have a RNM account, you can request one by sending an e-mail to RightNowMedia@sbcflint.org.)
Just take a look at the church prayer sheet right now… have you ever seen it more full of needs? In a church our size there are always people living through struggles, trials, challenges, and tragedies. But our church family seems to be experiencing a surge of struggles right now! So isn’t it also amazing that God is pouring out His sustaining grace to us through timely messages, Life Groups, and His Word?
So, what do we do when the Holy Spirit piles on? I think we thank Him for it and invite Him to keep piling on until the message finally sinks in. Then we can face our struggles and trials with a supernatural perspective that transforms our attitudes from disorientation, discouragement, and self-pity to “not my will, but Yours be done, Lord!” In the meantime, let’s pray and care for each other the way that a church family should.
Pastor Larry Burk