Money, Health, Relationships

Posted: August 7th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Day 6 of 40 Days of Believing God

I’m going out on a limb here…you’re having trouble in one of those three areas. Aren’t you?

The limb looks pretty strong, so I’ll take another step…you’re experiencing some difficulty in not just one of those areas, but two.

Still looks strong, so here I go another step…you’ve got issues in all three areas.

I don’t have any research or survey to back me up, but I’m guessing that at any one time–95% of people are dealing with problems in at least one of those three areas. 85% are dealing with issues in two areas and 75% of people are having problems in all three.

Now the problems may be big or small. Financial problems could range from not having enough money to get your car fixed to bankruptcy and losing your house. Both are difficult situations, one is obviously a little more serious.

Of course if you’re the person who can’t get your car repaired–it’s a very big issue to you. Difficulties are relative. Just because someone isn’t experiencing a major catastrophe, it doesn’t mean they’re not really struggling or under stress. (It’s a good reminder to be gracious and compassionate to everyone.)

Sometimes the length of a difficulty can be as stressful as a much bigger problem that’s shorter in duration. So there’s really no need to compare our sufferings. The point is–we’re all dealing with something. The question is–why?

I’m not going to address the specific source of our difficulties. In other words–are they the result of our own wrong choices, someone else’s actions or living in a fallen world? And I’m not going to get into the question of whether God caused it or allowed it.

I simply want to remind us of what God said about trials in James 1:2-8. Go ahead and read it first.

James actually says to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds….”

Okay, either there’s something wrong with him or we need to radically change our minds about the hard stuff we go through. Pure joy? When I face trials? Really? Come on, James. I’m not likin’ the sound of that.

Here’s the problem I’ve had for many years–my goal is personal comfort. I want a total absence of trials. And if I’ve got one, I certainly don’t want to consider it pure joy. I want it to go away as fast as possible. Pure joy. Please. Why would I want to do that?

James said that trials test our faith. Testing results in perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work. What work? Perseverance leads to maturity and completeness–our character and our conduct begin to resemble Jesus.

What needs to change is my goal. It can’t be personal comfort, because that’s not God’s goal for me. His goal is to make me like Jesus. That’s accomplished by persevering through trials. Do I wish there was another way? Yup. Is there? Nope.

What are you facing today?

Financial issues? Maybe you were just laid off. Maybe you were just hit with an unexpected bill…or two. Trust God and persevere. If some of the problem is the result of your own spending choices, then maybe you also need to take a financial course like Dave Ramsey’s. Learn what God wants to teach you through this process. The point is to not waste the trial/opportunity to grow.

You or a family member may be facing health issues. Trust God and persevere. God can heal. He can also give peace if He chooses not to heal.

It may be your marriage, a relationship with one of your children, a friend or a co-worker. The relationship is strained. Maybe it’s beyond strained. Trust God and persevere. Let God work on you. Let Him also work on the other person. You can’t change anyone, but you, so don’t try.

God has a reason for allowing whatever has come into your life. I know it’s not comfortable and you didn’t ask for it. It’s something you’d rather He just take away. Until He does, trust Him and persevere. He is using your present circumstances to make you more like Him.

He wants you to know Him and be more like Him. That’s His goal. If that’s your goal, too, then it may be just a little easier to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

Keep believing God through these 40 days. He has you in this process to do something great in your life. Don’t give into discouragement if the way is hard. Don’t give up. Be sure to share what you’re going through with a friend and look for ways to encourage each other. WE NEED EACH OTHER. We’ll never make it alone.

Pain Is Weakness Leaving Your Body

Posted: June 20th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Other | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

I don’t know who first said that. Probably the Marines.

Years ago when Robyn and I owned a personal training facility, we had one particular client (we’ll call her Susan) who’s goal seemed to be the avoidance of pain at all costs. Susan had certain exercises she liked and had a certain level of resistance she would tolerate. Increasing the resistance was out of the question. Week after week, month after month, it was the same thing.

Once in awhile, I would try to sneak in a little extra resistance on an exercise, but Susan would feel it and politely ask that the additional resistance be removed. As you can imagine, Susan’s results were less than stellar because she would not endure the necessary pain.

I really wish there was another way. I really do prefer pleasure and comfort. I don’t like to hurt. But to get faster, stronger, quicker, better or to lose weight and get healthier…pain is required. Just no way around it.

James 1:2-4 says:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

It can be painful when our faith is tested, but it’s the training program for developing perseverance, which leads to maturity.

So how might this look in your life today?

If you need to be more patient, God is not going to zap you with more patience. He’s going to put you in situations that will require patience. If you need to learn to love unconditionally, then God may give you unlovable people to love. If you need stronger faith, He will orchestrate circumstances so you must trust Him.

None of those scenarios are easy. Often they’re painful, just like working out, but whatever you’re facing today–don’t quit. Is it a financial struggle? Loss of a job? A serious illness? A marriage that seems hopeless?

Pain is strengthening your character and conforming you to the image of Christ. Don’t resist it. Don’t run from it. It won’t last beyond what you can bear.

Pain is weakness leaving your body. Pain is also weakness leaving your character.