Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Stretching...no pain, no gain...
"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." -- Isaiah 54:2
As Superstorm Sandy taught us, strong winds will blow, and they will bring floods and trouble, whether we are ready for it, or not. In our lives, there are many "storms" that blow in. We don't want the damage that storms bring us, but since storms are inevitable, we need to be as prepared as we can for them. When the storm passes and we look at the damage left behind...we cry, we yell, we cry some more and we feel devestated, vunerable and hurt. It is easy to blame God...to cry out and say "It's not fair!" and to become angry and bitter about the trouble and suffering the storm caused us.
But, I believe that God wants us to look at the storm damage and the trouble and suffering in our lives in a different way. There are several places in the Bible that talk directly about suffering in our lives. God's word gives us direction on how to handle the storm damage. We need to STRETCH, and be open to God's direction, even when it seems counter to how we naturally feel.
The Aspostle Paul suffered a LOT of storm damage in his life! He also shared with his friends and fellow church members how God was directing him to deal with that damage. In Romans 5:3-5 it says that suffering gives us strength to go on. Strength produces character and character produces hope. Hope in Christ will never fail us. Many times, we would never develop the ability to hope in Christ had we not had the suffering and pain caused by the storm damage.
It is not natural for us to be thankful and grateful for pain and suffering we must endure. We want to rant and rave and scream and ask for it to be taken away. But, God leads us to stretch and go beyond what comes natural to us.
Paul says in Philippians 3:7-14 that the thing he wants most is to know Christ. He longed to know the power that raised Christ from the dead, which means he really wants to know God better and better understand God's power. Paul also said he wanted to be like Christ and share in his suffering and in his death. Wait...why would ANYONE want to suffer like Christ and die as he did? That is crazy talk! But Paul goes on to say that if he is like Christ and experiences that pain and death, then by God's grace, he will be risen from the dead and spend eternity in heaven WITH Jesus.
So, when the storms come in our lives, we can go to God, looking for his power...we can look to Jesus and how he lived as a guide on how we should live and respond to the storm and the damage it brings. This is why this week's strange memory verse really does make sense...we need to strengthen our tent stakes...batten down the hatches, if you will...and be as prepared as we can for the storms that WILL happen in our lives. We do this by studying God's word and looking for his guidance. Then, when we look at the storm damage, look at it with joy and thanksgiving, because we made it through...we survived and are now stronger in both body and spirit and are even more prepared for the next storm.
Doesn't sound easy or like fun does it? But stretching our way of thinking about the storms in our lives WILL make us stronger. No pain...no gain.