Painful Progress

Painful Progress

From the devotional book EDIFIED!
 
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires [“lusts” as KJV says] that battle within you?”
James 4:1
 
I was unhappy, very unhappy–and didn’t know why. I snapped at my wife and was impatient with my boys. I felt very tired. There was no sweet spirit of peace and pleasantness flowing out of my heart; instead there was the acrid stench of bitter selfishness.
Situations like this explode out of me periodically and I am taken by surprise when I act so badly. However, our gracious Lord, who knows all and controls all, was simply giving me another lesson in faith.
While this upheaval was going on, 1 Peter 1 came up in my devotions; verses 6 and 7 spoke clearly to this situation: “…for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, those have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine…”
Aha! One reason for the coming of these inner pressures is the Lord showing me where my faith is not genuine. I expect myself to be “spiritual” when in actuality I am a redeemed but desperately wicked sinner in need of God’s constant grace.
Turning to James, I read in chapter 1, “Consider it pure joy, brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (Jam. 1:2-3).
Again, here is the truth: God was using this distress to make me grow by giving new revelation of the depravity of my heart. And my responsibility? To give thanks even though I felt the opposite, and then ask forgiveness from God and from those I’ve trampled on and to repent, being kind to them instead.
Taking a pen and paper, I claimed the promise of Psalm 86 “…Rejoice the soul of your servant, for I lift my soul unto to you,” and began telling God all that was in my soul: my worry, fear, anger, frustration, selfishness and impure thoughts that had surfaced under the pressures of my unhappiness. One by one I brought them under the blood, and surrendered them to Christ, asking again for the filling of the Spirit. Then I ripped up the paper.
Along with this, I went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep. The result? Today has gone exceedingly well. The outward pressures of today are greater, my responsibilities more, but the Lord is strengthening my faith, leading to trust, praise and rest in the midst of turmoil. As He shows me my weaknesses, I can lift my soul in confession and surrender, and He is bringing joy to my soul. What a faithful and wonderful God we have-and what a powerful Word He has given us to bring light and peace.
 
Prayer: “Today, Lord, help me to remember how weak I am and how great and powerful you are. Help me to praise you in the difficulties of the day so your power can work in my life, so I can live in a way that will bring honor to you. Amen.”
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