Today I want to continue a series of devotions on “Trusting God Even When Life Hurts.” These devotions summarize a book by Jerry Bridges with the same title. I hope you will get a copy of that book and read it for yourself!
We have seen that God is Sovereign and loving, but this does not mean that we should not expect adversity.
“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
Bridges says, “We mistakenly look for tokens of God’s love in happiness. we should instead look for them in His faithful and persistent work to conform us to Christ.” And Philip Hughes rightly observed, “Discipline is the mark not of a harsh and heartless father but of a father who is deeply and lovingly concerned for the well-being of his son.”
Sometimes as a father, I have been too harsh in response to my children. I have “over-disciplined” them because of my annoyance or impatience. God never does that with His children, ever! God will never allow any adversity into my life that is not ultimately for my good!
For he does not enjoy hurting people
or causing them sorrow.
God is a faithful father, and so he faithfully disciplines us, but He does so reluctantly. Though He does not delight in our adversities, he will not spare us adversities that will grow us into the likeness of His Son. Sometimes we may incorrectly assume that adversity in our lives is a direct result of some overt sin in our lives. But God is concerned not so much about what we DO as what we ARE! For out of what we ARE flows, what we DO.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Often we fail to see the sinfulness in our hearts. We overlook the extent of our pride, self-confidence, selfish ambitions, stubbornness, self-justification, lack of love, and distrust of God. But He sees them. In kindness and love, God uses adversity to expose these sinful dispositions, not for His benefit, but ours. As the ugly bubbles to the surface, we must recognize them as sinful attitudes and deal with them. If we confess (agree with God that they are wrong), He is faithful (every time) and just (righteous and unfailing) to forgive us those sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (1 Jn. 1:9).
When circumstances and people squeeze you this week, evaluate what responses come from within your heart. Does your response reflect the character and nature of Jesus? If so, rejoice in God’s grace and peace. If not, submit to God’s loving, careful work to make you more like Jesus.
Remember, God loves you, Jesus died for you, and the Holy Spirit is in you! Have a great Monday, everybody.