By Vince Antonucci
It's easy to praise and worship when the sun is shining. But what happens when life takes a sharp turn? How do we handle it when we ask God for a bailout, and the heavens are silent?
I've been there, and I'm sure you have too. Somehow the easy answers aren't satisfying. When life is rough, it seems to us that faith in God should count for something-that we ought to have a hot tip on where to find an escape hatch.
The Bible never makes that promise. As a matter of fact, from beginning to end it shows us godly people enduring trials. As a matter of fact, it suggests that trials are actually good things. Again, I know what you're thinking: Tell some guy it's a good thing when he loses his job. Tell her it's a good thing when her husband walks out. Truth can be difficult, but it's still truth.
When we see a wrinkle, what's our impulse? To iron it out. We like smooth. So if you're like most of us, your natural thought is, If I didn't have to put up with this one thing, life would be awesome. And the trial today becomes our enemy. That's pure human nature.
Test. That's key. A trial means a problem; a test means a process towards perfection. Tests in school may be problems, but we know why we have them: so that we can grow. Have you thought of your current trial as a test? What about you do you believe is being tested?
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
The idea of process is so important to our way of seeing life. It means that stumbling blocks are really stepping stones in disguise. God is ironing out the kinks. I bet you knew all of this already, but I bet you'll also agree that we all need a frequent reminder. What's great is that though God's purposes usually remain hidden, the process does not. Romans 5:3-4 breaks it all down for us, from suffering to hope. Are you surprised that the end goal is hope, rather than, say, success or happiness? Why is hope the ultimate goal, in your opinion? Leave your comments below.
Excerpt taken from The Song Small Group Study Journal
By Kyle Idleman Grace isn’t something you dissect and define. It's something that collides with and forever changes your life. But it's not as easy as it sounds, because before your life can collide with grace, you must first collide with the reality of your sin.
By Kyle Idleman Mr. Williams looked up from the starched white bed sheets to his nurse and asked, “Would you call my daughter Janie and tell her that I have had a mild heart attack? She is the only family that I have.” His eyes welled up with tears and his respiration sped up...
By Kyle Idleman They both sinned, in very similar ways, with a very similar effect. You might say even oddly similar. Except the rest of their stories could not be more different. Why? Because one missed out on the grace of God.
By Kyle Idleman Her eyes filled with tears as she told me her story of addiction and regret. Then she asked, “Do you think I’m good enough to be baptized?” She just couldn’t imagine God would still want her.
By Vince Antonucci Hagar felt mistreated, abandoned, rejected, and absolutely alone, and so she ran. She ran, feeling like no one knew or cared what she was going through. What Hagar didn’t know was that God knew.
By Vince Antonucci Our souls are fragile, the world is sinful, and we try to escape the damage or the bad feelings by hiding. We may not realize it, but a lot of what we do is driven by our soul needing a safe place to hide.
By Vince Antonucci God is calling us out of hiding and into an authentic, fully transparent relationship with Him. That may scare us, but deep down it’s what we long for.
Vince Antonucci God doesn’t fit in our boxes. If I could fully understand God, he’d have to be less complex than the directions on my new IKEA furniture, and, I suspect, we’d all be in trouble.
By LeighAnne Turner Once we encounter grace, it transforms our desires, motivations and behavior and brings us to a pivotal moment where we become compelled to extend grace to those around us.
By Kyle Idleman God is continually at work within us, molding us into the image of Jesus. It’s not only a process, it's a partnership. God doesn’t force transformation on us; we work with him on it.