If you go to a doctor or hospital, you'll likely have some tests run on you. They do this to find out if there's a problem, or to narrow down what the problem is. Although, sometimes I wonder if it's done to run up the bill. Oops, a little cynicism showing there.
When we go through tests in life it is to reveal problems. Problems that need to be eliminated. Most of those tests come in the form of trials. Not the courtroom type, but the grinding, is-this-ever-gonna-end type. You know what I'm talking about it?
Still, though we hear about this in sermons, teaching messages, books and blog posts, there's still a nagging question.
Why? Why do we have to go through all these trials?
Not a favorite subject
Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk about this subject a bit. It's not a favorite subject, but it's one we all deal with at some level, day in and day out. I won't go through all I did in my message, but a couple things stand out worth passing on here.
One of the things I notice about us Christians is our effort at trying to figure out what God is doing. When something happens that catches us off guard or completely sideswipes our lives, we try to see the reason for it.
Many times the reason eludes us. We try to quote Bible verses at it. We search the Bible, the internet, or query a pastor or counselor hoping to find answers. All too often, we just can't figure it out. "Why would... this happen"?
Getting some perspective
The first thing we need is a right view of things—a good perspective.
Here's one simple and obvious truth—whatever we're focused on is what we see and occupies our attention. Whatever we focus on will also affect what we do, along with our attitude. In other words, we become absorbed in it.
If my attention is focused on what is going wrong in my life, or what is troubling me, it tends to stifle my ability to see anything else. It can also isolate me. I become focused on my self, that is, I become self-absorbed.
Whatever I'm focused on is what I see and occupies my attention.
This is not a good perspective. We need something better to focus on, something beneficial.
We're not the only ones with this problem
When early Jewish believers came to believe in Jesus as their Messiah, they expected life to get better. But they experienced trials and persecutions instead. Because of this, they considered going back to their old religion of the Mosaic Law.
They're reasoning was to avoid problems connected to their relationship to Jesus. The book of Hebrews was written to address this issue, and it applies to us now.
Have you ever wondered if it's worth going through all these trials?
The main emphasis of the book was to show how Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross was far superior to anything in their old religion.
How does this relate to us today? We, like they, need to see beyond our difficulties in life, no matter how severe they are.
What should we focus on? Jesus! Sound too simple? It is and it isn't.
The simple and not so simple
What was the advice given in Hebrews when things were hard? Here it is—
Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won't get tired. You won't lose hope. [Hebrews 12:2-3 NIRV]
So, why isn't it that simple? Because life isn't static. The world doesn't stand still around us. Jesus told His followers that each day is full of its own trouble (Matt 6:34). In other words, trials and testings are bound to come.
The value of endurance
Hebrews chapter 12 goes on to remind us of the purpose of these trials and testings in our life. It's to train us. Why? Because our Father in heaven loves us and doesn't want us to keep struggling with the same old same.
God loves us enough not to leave us as we are. We come to Him just as we are, as the favorite old hymn goes, but we are not to stay the same.
God is working the selfishness out of us little by little through those pesky trials. But this requires perseverance on our part.
It's kind of like endurance training. You can't get the benefit of endurance without the training. The trials are the training that bring discipline and correction into our lives.
God loves us enough not to leave us as we are.
What's the most important thing? To keep adjusting our focus so we don't lose sight of the purpose of it all.
What do we focus on? Not what but who. You got it—Jesus!
More to be said
A lot more can be said on this subject, but not here. If you'd like to here the message I shared yesterday, just click on the link below.
If this post encourages or helps you, share it with someone else. Thanks for reading... and listening!