Thursday, August 31, 2006

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the w ves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" --Mark 4:35-41

All of us go through some incredibly trying times. So many times we are in that boat and we're scared to death. The storm is blowing all around us and it seems that there is no end in sight. I think one part about this Scripture is "so that it was nearly swamped." The most important word in that sentence is nearly.

I think there is a signifigant difference between what we can handle and what will crush us. Philippians 4:13 says that we can do anything in Him and 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear. We're always able to come out from under that which is attacking us.

But can we be given more than we can bear? I always hear people holding on to the fact that we'll never be given more than what we are able to handle -- but then I read Paul's writtings in 2 Corinthians.

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. -- 2 Corinthians 1:7-9

To me, this shatters something that everyone around me -- including myself -- has thought. I think the wording that Paul used is crucial because he says that they were under great pressure but he never says that they were crushed. They were not able to bear that pressure. I dont believe this is a contradiction to 1 Corinthians 10:13. I believe that both of these Scriptures are very comforting. I believe that God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can handle and I know that He will not let us be crushed or swamped. But what if we experience something that we simply can not endure? If we experience something that we can not endure, then I believe that God thinks very highly of us in those moments because He knows that we are at a point that we can totally trust in Him.

Time and time again God has reminded me that when I'm weak, thats when He is strongest. Its so much easier for me to get in the way when I know or I think I know what God is doing. The more clueless I am, the less ability I have to get in the way. If there is more pressure on us than we can endure, then that means that God is right there with us ready to lift that burden and give us relief from it. Again, it has to be repeated that in Mark 4, they were nearly swamped. In order to have a diamond, the stone is put under extreme pressure for years and years. The pressure put on us is just that -- shaping us into the perfect gem that God wants us to be. James 1 is a great source of comfort when we are under trial.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -- James 1:2-4

I like how he uses the words "trials of many kinds." It's a reminder that we are going to face alot of different things in our lives.... but being told that we should consider it pure Joy is an incredible thing. Again, I also like the use of the word perserverance. He says nothing about what we can handle or not handle -- he just says that whatever it is, we need to persever. And as if that passage wasnt already chock full of important points, we're also told the importance of faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the evidence of things that we can not see. In those situations that the waves are so high that they are nearly swamping us, what we dont see is that God is not worried -- and it is only in faith that we have evidence of this. Scott Krippayne does a song that goes "Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child." Those are such reassuring words. Our faith is the evidence that God will do one of these.

I don't know about you, but I am sure comforted in knowing that God is watching out for us and that even in the moments that we feel we can not move forward, God is there ready to lift the burden but for every second that we endure that hardship, we are being made into something incredible and God is preparing to do something big. With those thoughts, I certainly can consider it Pure Joy!

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