Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Back Into Faith - Part 3 Faith

Welcome back to Fall Back Into Faith Fridays, our fall bible study for busy women.  We have been taking a look at our faith - its foundation, the joy of our faith, and today our faith in a season of trials.

If you missed it yesterday, this week has given me a lot of fresh material to test my faith in the midst of trials.   

When we walk through a dark valley, one of two things can happen.  One, our faith can weaken in the face of opposition and we turn from God because we believe He has turned from us.  Two, our faith can strengthen because we have nowhere to turn for comfort and support but our Heavenly Father. 

I have seen both happen.  Heck, I have experienced both.  I have faced dark challenges and walked with friends through unimaginable suffering.  While we will certainly know joy in our faith, we also will doubtless experience suffering. 

The Bible shares stories of suffering from Genesis to Revelation.  We see countless trials in the life of Abraham, Moses, Job, Esther, Daniel, God's own chosen people, Paul, Stephen, and of course Jesus Christ himself, just to name a few. 

Walking through a dark valley can feel incredibly isolating.  I had one of my closest friends lose a baby at 9 days old.  I truly can not fathom her pain.  I sat with her for months as she cried and questioned God.  There is no answer.  But there is understanding.  God Himself suffered as he watched His own beloved Son tortured and killed. 

I have no idea what your heartache is today or what it has been.  I have no answers for why things happen the way they happen.  But I do know there is a reason. 

Romans promises the outcome of improved character and a shared inheritance with Christ.  Chapter 5 tells us, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope..."  Chapter 8 says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God."

2 Corinthians promises that not only will we find comfort in Christ in and in fellow Christians during a season of trial, but we will also be able to comfort others because of what we have endured:  "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ."

Paul shares in Philippians that our suffering will allow us to better know Christ, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him...I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him...Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Ultimately, it is that wisdom from Paul that I try to keep foremost in my mind when going through a dark season.  Forget what is behind.  Press on.  Focus on the prize - knowing Jesus and and keeping my eyes fixed on Him. 

And friend, know you are not alone.  You are not alone in your trials and suffering.  Not only does the God of all Peace stand with you, carrying you when you can no longer walk, but your sisters in the faith stand behind you helping you move forward.  And so it has been since the beginning of the faith. 

 I leave you with I Peter 5, a reminder for those struggling followed by encouragement, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

A little while dear one.  Just a little while.  Then the suffering will pass and you will be restored and strengthened. 

Further Reading:  2 Corinthians 1, Philippians 3, I Peter 4 - 5,

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