Have I mentioned how much I love Ben Stuart? I say that, knowing it's not really him, but God, that spoke to my heart last night.
Ben's message last night was over James 1, one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
A misconception among some Christians is that life is easy if you're a follower of Christ. False. We are not exempt from pain, we should actually expect it. But, knowing we are to "expect" pain, does not make it any easier when it actually comes.
This passage tells us to rejoice in pain. Ben said there are two kinds of people who rejoice in pain: those are crazy (literally, mental) and those who have hope, because we know something good will result from it, a glorious future awaits.
I loved the analogy Ben used... God takes us not to the bunny slope, or the green or blue slopes, He takes us to the top of the scary mountain where there is no slope, He takes us on the biggest wave in a rough ocean, and then teaches us how to navigate.
I've been told twice this summer, that in the midst of trials, don't ask why, but ask God to teach us something. "Let the trial finish God's work in you." It's painful. It stretches us. Oh, but to be transformed into what He's made us to be... how wonderful and complex He's made us to be.
One of the things Ben said that hit SO close to home: "He puts us in situations we don't know how to handle, so that we seek Him for wisdom." I heard this and thought back to countless times that I was lost, and didn't seek His wisdom first.
Pain gives us the wisdom to stop putting hope in things that fail.
Pain teaches us pain is real, but temporary.
Pain makes you put your hope in God.
The voice in your head that says, "it shouldn't be like this" is right, because it knows of a time when there wasn't any pain, and when there won't be any pain.
I loved when Ben said that it's okay to hate the pain, but remember that God is faithful and trust Him to pull you through. I think sometimes we think it's "wrong" to hate pain, that we're just supposed to put on a happy face and pretend it's okay. Yes, we rejoice in knowing something greater will come from it, but that doesn't mean we can't hate it.
The weaker I am, the harder I lean on You and stronger I discover You are.