Today was an especially helpful New Morning Mercies devotional by Paul David Tripp.
Sure, you’ll face difficulty. God is prying open your fingers
so you’ll let go of your dreams, rest in his comforts, and
take up his call.
Think about the words penned by Peter near the beginning of his New Testament letter: “Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6–7).
As he opens his letter, Peter gives us a past-present-future summary of God’s redemptive plan, but his interest is really in what God is doing right here, right now between Christ’s first and second comings. Of all of the words that he could use to describe what God is doing now, he selects these three: grieved, trials, and tested. These are three words that most of us hope would never describe our lives. None of us gets up in the morning and prays, “Lord, if you love me, you will send more suffering my way today.” Rather, when we are living in the middle of difficulty, we are tempted to view it as a sign of God’s unfaithfulness or inattention.
Peter, however, doesn’t see moments of difficulty as objects in the way of God’s plan or indications of the failure of God’s plan. No, for him they are an important part of God’s plan. Rather than being signs of his inattention, they are sure signs of the zeal of his redemptive love. In grace, he leads you where you didn’t plan to go to produce in you what you couldn’t achieve on your own. In these moments, he works to alter the values of your heart so that you let go of your little kingdom of one and give yourself to his kingdom of glory and grace.
God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God’s grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink. Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that this is exactly the grace we need.
For further study and encouragement:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.