I was thumbing through some old photos recently and happened on a picture of a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. The smile that came over my face was tempered by a sense of sadness. You see, she was once strong in her faith, but turned her back on God after the death of her mother. Since most of us know someone with a similar story, I thought a reminder about the purpose of difficulty would be timely way to conclude this month long retrospective on the 5 year anniversary of my blog.
Tea Bags & Trials
Big thunderstorms boiled up and rolled across the landscape, so I decided to take in the atmospheric light and sound show with a cup of hot tea. Since the hour was late, I planned to opt for a favorite herbal blend instead of my normal caffeinated Earl Grey. The brand we buy doesn’t put tags on their bags which, in this case, presented a problem because someone had mixed up the tea bags so now all of them looked the same. It was almost impossible to tell Wild Berry Zinger from Black Cherry Berry from Country Peach Passion. Even a good ‘sniff’ test wasn’t terribly revealing.
As I watched the boiling water pull out the tell-tale red coloring revealing my mystery tea to be Red Raspberry Zinger, it occurred to me that the hot water of adversity has a similar effect on believers.
Most of the time, it’s actually quite easy to walk in faith when life is on the upswing and flowing with the promise of fresh opportunities, new relationships, or answered prayer. We laud the generosity and goodness of God to our friends and co-workers, and worship comes easily to our lips. But those times of blessing aren’t really an indicator of a deep and abiding faith. The truth is, just like my tea bag, we don’t really know what’s inside of us until we’re immersed in difficulty.
The Apostle Peter tells us plainly that trials prove the genuineness of our faith and that the result of that tested faith will be of great worth us and bring glory to Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
So think about it a minute. What comes out when heat is applied to your life? Complaining? Bitterness? Resentment? Anxiety? Frustration? Doubt? Or is it trust, confidence, and faith in the Living God? We might be quick to point a finger at the difficulties themselves as the cause of our fear-filled reactions, but when unpleasant circumstances squeeze us, they merely reveal what is already on the inside of us.
Jesus promised us that we’d always have trouble in this world (John 16:33) and cautioned us to prepare for it in advance. (Matt. 7:24-29) So, if what flows from us when tough times hit leaves a bitter aftertaste, the best thing we can do to prepare ourselves is change the blend of our ‘tea’. Take the time now to mix your life with a strong brew of obedience, scriptural instruction, and prayer so that your life will ultimately produce a pleasing aroma to God (2 Cor. 2:15) that will not only strengthen you, but also invite others to taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps 34:8)