Mark Affleck


September 15, 2016
Spiritual Growth

Whew! It’s over. Thank God that storm has passed.
Have you ever felt like that after going through one of life’s trials? I have. More times than I’d like to admit. The good news for me is that God has revealed his perspective and the truth that spiritual growth after a test of faith is not automatic. In fact, God doesn’t want us to treat our trials in life like getting past an accident on the freeway but obsessing over it with an glued to the rear-view mirror.
But God does want us to listen to him immediately after the trial cycle. That’s when we are most open to his pruning the parts of our lives that need to be reshaped for more fruitful growth. Perhaps it will be a change in lifestyle or an adjustment to how we respond to certain situations. Whatever it is, God has a plan in mind to make us better equipped for the future. Like pruning a vine, God’s purpose in pruning us is to get us to produce more fruit and healthier fruit.
To move beyond just “making it through” the trial, we need to find something (anything) in our trials to take forward and leave the pain of the past behind. If we constantly agonize over the rough spots in the road, and look in the rearview mirror, we will miss seeing God’s glory unfolding in front of us on our journey. We will miss the rainbows, the mountains, and the baby’s smile. Most importantly, we will miss God’s presence and the joy of living peacefully while powered by his incredible rhythms of grace.
Constantly looking in the rearview mirror presents another problem. Eventually, we will crash. Looking back to make sure someone pays or feeling sorry for ourselves over a tragedy is a losing game. We don’t control who pays, and we know injustice rules in our world. Let us focus instead on taking our pain, anguish, and anger to the Judge over everything. This does not minimize the pain and unfathomable grief we will feel in our lives. Going to God with our pain embraces those feelings and allows us to move forward stronger than ever, even as we are learning from pain.
I love God’s promise that he will show us the right way. For one thing, it means we are not responsible ourselves for finding the right way. To me, that is a great relief.
How does God show us the right way? The Bible is the repository of all the wisdom to know right from wrong and to keep our thoughts in check.
“The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

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