By Randy Alcorn, January 5, 2018 blog at: http://www.epm.org
Jesus is not our ‘go-fer’ who exists to run our errands. Rather, He is our Sovereign Lord who gives us what we need, while sometimes denying what we want.
We want deliverance from suffering. We want our loved ones to be protected. We don’t want economic crises, natural disasters, job losses, car accidents, or cancer. Our prayers and often our expectations boil down to this: Jesus should make our lives go smoothly. That’s what we want in a Messiah. But it is not what God wants.
Jesus is not our personal assistant charged with granting our wishes. While He often doesn’t give us what we want, He always gives us what we need.
Ironically, the life of ease we most desire is the very kind of life that would make us the people we least admire. Because, let’s be honest, virtually everyone who has suffered little in life seems shallow, unmotivated, self-absorbed, and lacking in character. And yet we do everything we can to avoid challenges, both to our children and to ourselves.
God’s parenting method doesn’t shield us from adversity and the character it builds. He knows the life of ease is deadly to the development of Christlike character.
Proverbs 3:11-12 — Do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke; because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Hebrews 12:7-11 — Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 5:8 — Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.
Romans 5:3b-5 — We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.