Monday, June 1, 2009

Lessons Learned [1]

As I mentioned previously, Charity and I have recently come out of an intense time of learning. It is my desire to record some of these lessons learned for the sake of perhaps encouraging others. It is also my desire that I do not forget the lessons learned, even by encouraging accountability from readers to help me remember these lessons.

Lesson One: It is the Word of God, not the trial itself, that sanctifies.

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.--James 1:2-5
Though I knew better, I think I had become tempted to think "life" simply has a maturing and sanctifying effect upon believers. I tend to become distracted by the word "trials", and forget that the issue is faith. This is why James reminds us to ask for wisdom from God, and that He will grant it. Our faith is not simply developed by enduring a trial, but our endurance through a trial can plant the Biblical truth deeper into our hearts.

By God's grace, I can see recent ways He used the Word to begin the sanctification process in advance of the trial. He had me search out His sovereignty in the midst of suffering for the April 19th sermon from Leviticus 14. (This was just 10 days before hearing one very troubling diagnosis.) Then, God reinforced His victory over death from the April 26th sermon from Leviticus 18 (while we awaited test results).

As a pastor, this served as a reminder for me as to why we preach the Word. My experiences cannot prepare the congregation for suffering, nor can they provide real comfort. It will certainly effect the way I preach and will provide a greater understanding of a text, but the answers are still found in the text. In the same way that God provided comfort and growth through Scripture, God desires the pastor to present the Word of God in ways that prepare the congregation for unforeseen trials.

However, God revealed His grace to me in that His Word is truly sufficient, and that He will even point us to exactly the right text we need in order to grow. Then He will apply that Word to the trial so that we will be made mature and complete, enduring--not by our willpower--but by His grace!

1 comment:

Margaret said...

awesome...thanks for sharing...we love your family!