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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Trials Are Three Dimensional

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:1b NIV

Today I am realizing that often I see my trial in only one dimension. I see it from a self-centered vantage point. What is this doing to me? What is this costing me? Why is this happening to me? Why did this have to happen? What is God trying to teach me? When will I stop suffering? Sometimes I am so busy suffering that I fail to realize that others who are close to me are suffering too.

God I know that you also have a part in my suffering. God you are loving and compassionate. When your children hurt you also hurt. You are sad because we are so sad. Today I am remembering that some of Jesus’ dearest friends were Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus had been in their home many times. They had talked, eaten together, and Mary had worshiped Jesus by anointing his feet with a costly perfume.

Then one day Lazarus became ill. Jesus was not in Bethany, so Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. The message was, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Lazarus’ sisters had complete faith that Jesus was able to heal their brother, who they deeply loved. But to the disciples surprise and Mary and Martha’s shock, after Jesus received the news about Lazarus being sick he deliberately delayed his journey to Bethany two more days!

The truth was that Jesus could have healed Lazarus from afar just as he did the centurion’s servant. Luke 7:1-10 But instead Jesus chose to delay going to Lazarus. It was a delay of love. Jesus knew that healing Lazarus would be wonderful but he also knew that raising him from the dead would be glorious! And so Jesus waited. Mary and Martha waited. Lazarus waited and then he died waiting!

In John 11:11 Jesus is speaking to his disciples regarding Lazarus. Jesus referred to Lazarus their friend. Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” Jesus was speaking of death, not sleep. When Jesus arrived Mary and Martha greeted him and reported that he was too late. Lazarus had died. Then the sisters begin to convey to Jesus in no uncertain terms their disappointment. Mary and Martha perceived that Jesus had failed them. The sisters were grieved to the point of tears that Jesus hadn’t bothered to show up in a timely manner and because of that fact, Lazarus had died. John records that Jesus then went to Lazarus and was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and in verse 35 John records that, “Jesus wept.” Plain and simple Jesus cried, not because Lazarus had died. Jesus wept because his friends Mary and Martha were hurting and grieving. Jesus wept because he had compassion. But then Jesus wiped away his personal tears because it was now time for him to shine. He was about to do what he came to do. It was show time! It was glorification of the Father time! Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” and he did.

Our trials are three dimensional. Of course, our trial involves us. Secondly, our trial involves others who care about us. Thirdly, our trail always involves our loving Heavenly Father. I think it is important for us to learn that we are not alone in our trials and suffering. We may feel that God is far away but in reality he is as close as the air we breathe and he weeps when we weep. His sweet Spirit resides inside of those who belong to him and he stands ready and able to help us in our time of need.

I must also remember that my trials work for my good. My trials are a beautiful sign of God’s love because he can use my sorrow and brokenness to create something beautiful in my life. It is through brokenness that God develop godly character within me. My trials offer a unique opportunity for God to orchestrate amazing things in my life. My personal desire is always for a favorable outcome to my problems, but a happy ending is not the issue; the issue is my surrender to God’s Sovereignty, his purposes, and his glorification.

God also uses my trials to accomplish his purposes. I have noticed that at the end of any trial God’s glory is the cherry on my sundae, it is the icing on my cake, it is the exact moment when I can finally surrender my will to God’s will the burden is lifted and I can now celebrate. I do not celebrate the sorrow but I do celebrate the fact that I have placed my sorrow in God’s capable hands. It is a holy moment when God shows up in all of his power and glory and my life is changed. My circumstances may remain but my wrong assumptions and bad attitudes are smashed, my anger melts, my fear is gone, and my chains of self pity and personal disappointment fall off.

After great loss, grieving is necessary for God to bring healing into our lives. During grief God is always near even when we cannot feel him. Slowly, we begin to feel God’s comfort as we move away from the tragedy. I don’t believe that God expects us to be able to be thankful for the tragedy that has left a hole in our heart, but I do believe that he wants us to eventually position ourselves so that we can give thanks for what we are becoming as a result of our personal loss. God always wants to fill the gaping holes in our life with himself and the end result is always his glorification and our healing.

When we are finally able to openly express genuine gratitude for God’s faithfulness to us during our trial God is glorified! It seems that God mysteriously allows others to recognize any positive attitudes in our life that speak of God’s love, goodness, and faithfulness. Often others make silent observations that are hidden from our eyes and ears. We may never be aware that another person has taken note of the way we are responding to God. Unbeknown to us, when our words bless God then he is glorified and his purposes are accomplished in the hearts of others.

Oh that I could embrace this truth at the onset of every trial. How wonderful it would be if I could understand this so well that I did not become angry, argue, and try to bargain with my Heavenly Father. How I wish that I would never spend a single day in the cellar of self-pity and depression. Oh that I would not panic but rather get totally alone with Jesus and stay there until I hear his voice. Lastly, to be able to quote in perfect surrender, the words of Jesus, “Father, not my will but your will be done.” But for me it is usually a process as I work through my brokenness and loss.

Today I can’t help but realize that God has a very huge part in all of my trials. I know that my trials affect me in a very up close and personal way. They cause me sadness, they leave me lonely, they create fear within me, and they often cause me both physical and emotional pain and suffering. But God’s Word says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV

So when does the suffering end? When is the heartache over? When does God show up on my behalf? God does not show up, he is already there. We are the ones who must show up. We must join him in our suffering. We must allow him to minister to us and begin the healing process. God’s glory shines when all of his purposes are fulfilled. Sometimes I find that I must wait for God’s purpose to be fulfilled in the life of the one I love. In marriage, two have become one, so sometimes I must wait on my mate and he must wait on me. I suffer when my children experience trials, but I must wait for their obedience to God.

Others are always watching and they gain strength when they see we are trusting in the sovereignty of God. When all of God’s purposes are in place and all things are ready, then God shows up at another location and puts on a spectacular display of his heavenly glory. We may perceive that God is late in coming to our aid but God is never even one second late in delivering his glory! Our joy is especially sweet when we come to the end of a very long and dark tunnel. When we experience an answer to a long awaited answerer to prayer the answer is indescribably joyous! “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. “Psalm 30:1b NIV

I must remember that God’s glory is not contingent upon my happiness. Sometimes things do not turn out as I had hoped. Other times I couldn’t be happier! Answers that make me happy are indeed reasons for celebration. But the truth is I must be able to agree with Job and say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21b NIV


1. Does today find you in the middle of a trial?
2. Have you considered that you are not alone in you suffering?
3. Do you become frustrated as you wait for God to deliver you from your trial?
4. Have you considered that perhaps all God’s purposes have not yet been fulfilled?
5. Are you ready to trust God regardless of the outcome?
6. Have you ever witnessed God’s glory at the end of a long trial?


Dear Jesus,

Today I am suffering because of ______________. I now know that it is important for me to consider that others may be suffering as well. I see that just as you were with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, you are also with me. It leaves me speechless when I realize that you weep with me. I confess that from my perspective here on earth I sometimes see death as the worst case scenario, when in fact; it is the beginning of an everlasting life of joy for those who belong to you. I thank you Jesus that my trials are not for punishment or to teach me to shape up! You said that trials would be a very real part of this life. Jesus, help me to remember that Satan is always ready to attack me and convince me that you have forsaken me. I pray that I would fix my eyes on you. Help me to know that what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal. God I confess that I am weak but I know that you Lord are strong. I pray that you would empower me with your words and your grace so that I can say with Job, blessed be the name of the Lord. God it helps me to know that I do not stand alone in my suffering. I thank you for family and friends that stand close by to listen and comfort me. Jesus, I absolutely love that you, are the third dimension in my suffering. Last but never least, Jesus, you are my comfort, my peace, my joy, and my hope. Thank you for weeping with me during these difficult days.

It is in your name I pray. Amen