James 1: 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
This is a verse I struggled with until I experienced a little maturity. The idea that God is always in motion and that His plan is ever being enacted. He is never surprised or taken off guard. I however believe that God can and is disappointed allot by our failures. We fail in two ways:
1: Giving into temptation:
2: Fail to pass spiritual test:
Temptations are sent from the enemy to bring out the worst in us.( John 10: 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.) and Trials are sent from God to bring out the best in us. (Ephesians 4 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.).
I look over the past few years and there has been a definite spiritual battle taking place. The question is has it all been from the Enemy or has this been orchestrated by God? Honestly in my opinion it doesn’t matter. That’s right, it doesn’t matter. You may ask why? And my answer would be again I believe God is ultimately in control. I believe that the final outcome of every spiritual war is God wins. Now there may be battles where it seems the favor has fallen to the enemy but ultimately God comes out on top.
Now in the area of my own personal life I see this and “try” always to take the high road. My biggest struggle isn’t is God in control, my biggest struggle is wanting to defend myself. I feel the last few years no matter how often I take the high road no matter how much I keep silent, no matter how I “try” and speak well of those I am in conflict with that I always seem to be portrayed by some as the bad guy. My mind is baffled by this. The reality is I need to stop worrying who is right or wrong. I need to just focus on my personal journey and be open to God the Holy Spirit doing His perfecting will in me. After all scripture teaches that (Ephesians 6: 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.)
When I have this mindset I then can understand the joy that comes when I am under various trials or even temptations because both have the opportunity for spiritual growth. Both have the opportunity to be overcome by dependence on God and hence both can birth good or opportunities for good even to those who may be against me. I mean it seems like we are told to love our enemies and seek good for those who may be against us. There is no better sign of growth as a believer than this and the fruit of being an ambassador of reconciliation is joy and peace in your own heart. The joy and peace of knowing even if your efforts and the branch or reconciliation is offered and rejected, that you are being part of the solution and not the problem. (Know that today I preached over the martyrdom of Stephen n Acts 6-7)
So surrender your right to be explained or understood. Most people don’t care about your side just the justification of their own side. Be willing to appear as the bad guy and have your words twisted and motives questioned. I mean did this not happen to Jesus, Stephen and all the rest of Christ followers? So I guess I am in good company by seeking to understand instead of be understood which I will close with the prayer of St Francis. This humble prayer seems to have started and summed up my entire first day.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.