Friday, April 23, 2010

You Can Change 5

Chapter 4 of Tim Chester's You Can Change is titled "When Do You Struggle?" In the first part of this chapter he reminds us that God cares about our struggles. He doesn't simply make Himself available when we are good and then give us the cold shoulder when we struggle. He's here. And He got involved in a tangible way by sending Jesus into the madness that we call humanity. Jesus faced every kind of trial and temptation that we will ever face, yet He did so by staying dependent on the Father.

We all struggle, but the good news is that God uses our struggles for His glory and our benefit. Romans 5:8 says that suffering eventually leads to hope. James 1:2-4 says that we can count as joy the trials we go through because they lead to maturity. Romans 8:28-29 says that God takes all things, even those things meant for evil, and can bring good out of them. And He uses those things to conform us to the image of Jesus. And 1 Peter 1:6-7 says that God uses our trials to make us more like Jesus and bring praise to Him.

Now before I go any farther with this, let's talk about this word "struggle." In the context of the book so far I have imagined the word in a very negative sense. It's talking about sin. We struggle, we fight. Sometimes we overcome, and sometimes we're overcome. But as I was reading, and especially reading the passages noted above, I remembered that the primary Greek word translated "trials" is also translated "temptations." The Greek word I'm referring to is πειράζω (πειρασμός) for those of you interested.

In passages such as James 1:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6, Luke 8:13, and James 1:12, this word is most often translated as "trials" or sometimes "testing." Yet in passages such as 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Timothy 6:9, and Matthew 6:13, the word is translated "temptation."

Why does this matter???

This is huge. I don't like suffering (trials), but I know that God uses it to make me more like Jesus. Further, He can bring beauty and blessing out of it. This is why I can say that it is good. However, I never look at temptations as a good thing. Perhaps it's because it's easy to be overcome by temptation instead of overcoming it. Yet God wants to use this kind of struggle for His glory and my benefit.

So God can use all of our "struggles" for His glory and our benefit. More on this chapter tomorrow.

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