Rick Warren (1954- ) and Matthew Warren (1986-2013)
Two devotions by Rick Warren at: www.pastorrick.org October 20 and 22, 2017
You’ll face trials in life, no doubt about it.
But God will use them to free you.
In fact, sometimes what others expect will enslave you, God uses to liberate you. He’ll use them to set you free from the expectations and opinions of others.
The Bible says it like this: “You let captors set foot on our neck; then we went through fire and water and you led us out to freedom” (Psalm 66:12 NAB).
God wants you to be free. The Bible says the truth will set you free. But truth often comes with a high cost.
Four years ago my youngest son died. You might have heard the story. He had struggled with mental health his entire life. He had a troubled mind but a tender heart.
The day he took his life was the worst day of my life. I’ll never forget it.
But to make matters worse, Satan tried to take advantage of it. Critics came out in full force, saying horrible things about my family. You’d see them on TV, in magazines, and on blogs. They celebrated and laughed at his death. It was brutal, public, and constant. I thought I was going through Hell itself.
But God walked with me every step of the way. During this time, someone asked me how I was doing and I responded, “Honestly, I feel fearless.”
I wasn’t afraid. All I kept thinking was, “Satan, is that all you can throw at me? Are those critics the best you have?”
I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m living for an audience of one. Sometimes God uses tough times to wean you off an addiction to other people’s approval. You just don’t need it to be happy.
God tests us with success.
Does that sound strange? You might have an easier time believing that God tests you with stress or suffering. But think about it.
You’ve seen success ruin people. The young rock star gets everything she has ever wanted and then crashes and burns. The athlete signs a big contract and then parties away his future. A business grows bigger than anyone expected, and the owner becomes reckless with expansion plans. We’ve read the stories.
As a pastor for more than 40 years, I can tell you that more people have been ruined by success than by suffering. Suffering tends to push people toward God. But when people are successful, they often forget about God.
For every person who can handle pain, you’ll find very few who can handle fame. The praise goes to their head, and it destroys them.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 27:21, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (NLT).
In reality, every compliment is a test. Compliments and criticisms are a bit like chewing gum. You can chew on them awhile, but don’t swallow them. Both of them can really mess you up.
It’s so easy to forget God when success comes your way. But if you remember that your success comes from God, you will pass the success test every time.
Heavenly Father, remember your tender mercies and fill my heart with your grace. How can I bear this life of misery unless you strengthen me with your mercy and grace? Do not turn your face from me. Do not withdraw your consolation, lest my soul become as desert land. Teach me, Lord, to do your will. Teach me to live worthily and humbly in your sight, you who knew me even before the world was made. Amen.
–Thomas a Kempis