WHY?? HOW??? Why are these passages so relevant to our lives and how do they always know how to challenge me where I need to be challenged? (both are rhetorical questions… no need to answer...)
As I’ve been meditating on the themes of loyalty and commitment, the most concrete bit of processed information I have to share comes out in the form of a question:
Why does suffering + faith = increased loyalty and commitment to God?
As Christians we know there is more going on in this world than meets the eye and we know the character of God to be good and faithful. Even in times of suffering we sing to God “you make all things work together for my good” and strive to believe that wholeheartedly. We could/should also sing “you make all things work together for your good” because we believe that pursuing the will of God to be made real in our world and lives is ultimately the best way for things to work together for our good.
Ok, so why suffer?
One Sunday last summer, the pastor gave a sermon illustration that talked about the process farmers utilize to grow trees in an orchard. When the trees are very young the farmers will deprive the trees of water for extended periods of time because the farmer knows how these trees will react. These seedlings will shoot their roots down deep into the soil… seeking the water they know exists and the water they have already tasted (so to speak). By depriving trees of water, the farmer is pushing the trees to be more firmly rooting in their soil and is encouraging the growth of roots that can more readily access and take in water.
I say to God, “make me loyal and committed, because I don’t know how to be” and His response is not some wishy washey, cliché statement, but He answers us in the form of an opportunity. He gives us the choice to be grown by presenting us with opportunities for our loyalties and commitments to be tested and grown.
In an abstract kind of a way, that makes sense to me. After times of suffering we are drawn closer to God. The problem is when suffering becomes a reality in my life and my loyalty and commitment levels start to decrease not increase. This is where faith comes in.
This is where Wednesday’s meditation hit me hard:
“Although faith is life’s greatest treasure, a dilemma exists for those who hunger for it. The dilemma is- to grow faith requires immense pressure. To deepen the quandary, as faith grows the pressure does not subside, it actually becomes more intense”
CS Lewis wrote that “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods”.
In my head I understand that the world tells us to live one way, but God calls us to live His way- the way we were created to live, and a way that is SOO GOOD because we will thrive when we learn to live as humans loved by God. I understand that this conflict causes pressure in our lives. But when the pressure becomes a reality, I need the kind of faith that CS Lewis is talking about- God has SHOWN me that He will be faithful and that God’s way might be harder, but it’s ultimately better. Now that the opportunity has presented itself I need faith for my faith to be grown.
As Christians we can relate a lot to Katy Perry. We’re hot then we’re cold, we’re yes then we’re no, we’re in then we’re out, we’re up then we’re down.
I don’t believe we’re roller-coaster Christians because we choose to accept God one day and decide to consciously deny him the next. No, I think it’s partly our passion to be fully committed to our Lord that forces us to these extremes. Throughout the bible Peter illustrates this really well. Peter is always moving from the extremes of no, no never to yes, yes all of me! Or the other way around.
We want so badly to be loyal, but like the Peter and the other disciples we don’t know how to be. We passionately throw ourselves every which way as soon and don’t know how to make our loyalty real and not a transient desire.
So we’re presented an opportunity- God shows us the way.
Struggle + Faith = increased commitment and loyalty to God.
I’m stopping myself here. Isn’t this fun!?! Congratulations and my apologies to all who read this whole thing...
Love you all and looking forward to reading about Passion with you guys.