By Ron Wood / guest columnist
The Meridian Star
Some things you can't go around … you have to go through. You can't avoid all trials. As one man said, "If you find yourself passing through hell, don’t stop!"
Is there such a thing as a baptism of suffering? Are you facing a fiery trial? Is God using a painful ordeal this very moment to shape your life?
This isn't theory to me. At times I have said to God, "How can you love me and let me go through this?" But I discovered that God did love me. In fact He allowed me to suffer because He trusted me, knowing that I would pass the test even if I wasn't happy at the moment. What was going on? My Father was demonstrating that I was ready for the next level.
In classic Christianity, there was always recognition of suffering as one aspect of the genuine life of faith. Our modern Christianity-lite makes no such allowance. Hence, very few believers today mature into a faith that is worth imitating, much less develop the strength of character to help change the world.
I am amazed at the reasons I find in the Bible for why good people may go through tough times. Did you know that God is good but He doesn't coddle us? He is training us to reign with Christ. Sometimes we will be required to endure fiery ordeals, not because we did anything wrong, but as a consequence of standing for the truth and doing what is right. That good conduct earns high approval from the Lord.
Here is The Big Question: When you are going through the fire, what is it that is being tested? Is it your patience? Is it your faith? Is it your capacity to love? A personal trial in your life is like a shake-down cruise for a new ship. Everything is done to press all the systems to maximum stress so that any weaknesses can be seen and repaired. That is why our heavenly Father allows us to be tested.
If we pass the test, it becomes a basis for our promotion. We are certified as battle-ready. We can be trusted with true riches. We handle fame or money or responsibility.
Let endurance carry you to the finish line. When people sacrifice their integrity in order to avoid hardship, they forfeit or delay their destiny in God. Like Israel wandering in the wilderness, God said to them, "Take another lap!"
Suffering is an ordinary part of life on this sin-soaked planet. We can't totally escape all of it this side of glory. So minimize the pain by obeying God's word. Pass the test by refusing to doubt God. Don't complain just because you have to occasionally wear combat boots.
The devil is real but your own foolishness causes most of your problems. So get over yourself: chin up, eyes forward, begin to praise God, and give your critics what they don't expect ... watching you win! Don't throw away your faith. Toughen up. Victory is just ahead.
Pastor Ron Wood teaches Bible at Trinity Assembly Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome. Website- trinitymeridian.com. The Father's Power radio program is Sunday at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., on 103.3 FM.