Wednesday, October 7, 2015

You Are More

1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

James 1: 2-6 NASB
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. "

Romans 12:9-12 NASB
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer..."

We are not tempted beyond what we are able to endure. More than that, the trials we face, whether sin-related or otherwise, we are never given more than we can handle. I know that I have personally struggled with that verse because sometimes my trials seem too great. But where in there does it say that we can or should endure our trials alone? Nowhere are we told that our weaknesses and burdens are to be borne alone. We are to be devoted to one another in brotherly love. We are to encourage one another and give strength to the weak! If a brother lacks strength, are we not to pull from our past experience involving tribulation to help them overcome as well? I spent a lot of time thinking I was alone only to realize that when I talked to others about what I was struggling with, that I wasn't nearly as alone as I thought. 

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man..." Common... Wait, so my tribulation is common? Does this make it less than worthy of fighting for? Does this mean that my weakness is nothing special? No! This is meant to reassure us that our trials are not just our own. This verse is supposed to provide peace and give us hope knowing that others have endured similar trials to our own! Don't endure alone, no one ever should. Find people and friends who will stick by you, make you strong, lift you up, and encourage you! You are worthy of encouragement and strength, you are worthy of endurance and resilience, you are worthy of grace and mercy! My heart aches for those who don't understand this and don't feel it! You are worthy of so much! 

Is it just me or does it seem like faith can be so easily shaken? I've spent much time meditating over the verses above and I can confidently say that remaining faithful during trials is so hard. There's a verse in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that also plays in to this: "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with stresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." When I am weak, then I am strong

How can there be strength in weakness? It's so clear in James 1:2-6 that trials, the things that test our faith, the things that make us feel weak, lead us into perseverance and fosters endurance. I know that often I've cried out to God saying, "Why me, take this burden from me, I can't bear it any longer, how can I be this weak and make it through? I am not nearly enough!" I have cried out like this only to realize that at some point I had endured though I couldn't recall when it had finally happened. I hadn't been aware, but I had overcome! I had endured my trials and it was almost as if I'd forgotten they'd even plagued me once before! 

We cannot forget that we are not alone. We cannot forget that our strength comes from momentary weakness. We cannot forget that trials produce endurance and steadfastness. And most importantly, we cannot forget that we hold worth to God; to him we are more than enough!

Psalm 139:13-16 says, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." So we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are not common, each one of us is worthy of His grace and mercy, each one of us is more than common even if our weaknesses often are the same. 

It may be a silly analogy, but think with me for a second: Imagine you are walking through a parking lot and tell me, how many different types of cars do you see? There are hundreds upon thousands of brands and models, makes and colors, shapes and sizes. How often do we see identical cars? Even when we do, each one is still slightly different from the next in even the most subtle ways, right? How many cars experience the need for an oil-change, get a flat tire, or need new windshield wipers? How many cars have dings and/or broken glass that warrants repair? Though the injuries, repairs, and maintenance are often the same, the method of repair for each car is different due to circumstance. We are like cars, are we not? In the same way our burdens and trials are common in nature but vast in the method of repair! But in our weakness we are granted strength and endurance

So what is the point in endurance in the end? What do we gain? Besides the obvious final reward, our earthly lives will be better for our tribulation. If we endure then we grow. Without even realizing it, we will experience growth and somehow ultimately become more than we currently are. Sunday morning our congregation had a discussion about our worth and there was a story told about a girl who, immediately upon becoming baptized, was embraced by her grandfather who said to her, "You are now more, you will always be more." 

And what a beautiful idea that is, right? That we are becoming more every day as we overcome and make decisions that keep us on the right path. With weakness we become strengthened if we endure. Endurance is brought to us by way of trial and tribulation all made possible by the grace and mercy of God, who tells us that we are worthy of more. Just as reading scripture makes us both weak and strong, so do our trials. So that's it then, through our painful experiences there is this hope, there is this promise: You are now more, and you will always be more.

Hebrews 4:16 NASB
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

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