Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Benefiting from Troubles, Puzzles, and Times of Struggle

Often called helicopters, by children and adults alike, the fruit of the maple tree is actually called a Samara. It seems that adults would call samaras helicopters because that is what they called them since they were children. In any event, the samara has intrigued everyone who has watched one gently sink to the ground in the breeze of a spring day.
This seed vehicle seems to only break off of the tree when there is, at minimum, a small gust of wind, or at least a slight breeze. What will separate the dead seed from the twig that it barely clutches to, but wind that fills the sail of the samara, or a squirrel or a bird disturbing the twig? Nevertheless, it is easily deduced that the sail of the samara is meant to carry the seed to a place away from the tree, probably for the freshly germinated sapling to have its own sunlight, and not be under the shade of the tree from which it fell.
The maple tree is of such an arrangement that consistently brings glory to God. Aside from the occasional disruption from a squirrel or a bird, the samara was clearly designed to wait on the wind, not only to travel, but also to separate itself from the tree. In this design, the tree—from a seed—is doing exactly what it was told to do by its Creator, as well as how to do it:
After creating the young maple tree, God said, “I want you to make little maple trees and plant them far away from you, so they can provide shade, shelter, wood, and food for the other creatures I have created on the earth.” The young maple tree thought to himself, “How am I going to do this when I am stuck here, rooted in the earth He has created? I don’t have the means of transportation like the other creatures of the earth have, such as legs, wings, or even fins... how does He expect me to do this?” The young maple tree stood there, just staring off into space, not knowing what to do. In his mind, he felt like he was in prison, unable to fulfill God’s will for his life. “You're asking the impossible! You haven’t given me what I need to do this!” the young tree shouted into the air. Frustrated with his inabilities, he stood there seething, filled with anxiety, and feeling worthless. Just then, he felt a drop of water on one of his leaves. He thought to himself, “Just what I need at a time like this... when I’m down it the dumps, it rains. Not only has the Creator covered the sun, but He is making me all wet.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (NIV Isaiah 55:8-9).
Have you ever been mad at God? Perhaps you didn’t get something (or someone) you really wanted, or you got something you didn’t want at all, even though you are a good person. Or perhaps one or both of your parents passed away unexpectedly, or your husband or wife left you for someone close to you. It seems that there isn’t a person on earth who hasn’t, in his or her heart, suffered or struggled at some point in life. During these times, we all react slightly differently, but the same thing is happening to our hearts: they are broken. These broken hearts that we gain through situations such as those mentioned above sometimes make us mad at God. We reason, “If God exists and is all-powerful, why would He allow something like this happen to me? I am a good person!”
After not hearing anything back from God, we begin to rebel. Our attitude reflects the way we feel. It is possible that we do things that are careless since our world was so shaken, yet we don’t think about how our current actions will affect us in the future, or maybe we simply don’t care how they will affect us in the future. Either way, we make poor decisions. Being mad at God, whether it is being mad that He exists, or being mad at Him for allowing something to happen, has its repercussions.
“God, being all-knowing, knew how I would react to something like this, so why did He allow it to happen? Why does He want me to be mad at Him? If He wants me to believe in Him and love Him, this is definitely not the way to do it.” This seems to be a popular line of reasoning with people who are advanced in their recovery from suffering. Often, we don’t even think about those who are also suffering from the same incidence. It consumes our minds, and takes over our lives. This point is not to reveal selfishness, but to show how powerful events can absolutely take over our lives.
On a positive note, some repercussions cause us to constantly think about His place in events like these. In other words, we often wonder, “Where were you?” or something to that nature which in turn might spark our curiosity into searching out some answers. It appears that this is possibly a misunderstood motive of the Lord (giving us easy reasons to seek Him) as we can see how He often emphasizes the importance of prayer in His Word (1 Thess. 5:17; James 5:16; Mark 11:24; Philippians 4:6-7; John 15:7; James 1:5; and several others). In other words, through these seemingly terrible experiences, God is inviting us to go to Him. It is ok to express our feelings to Him. He is patient and loves us. A person can’t hurt His ears if he or she screams prayers to Him.
Not belittling the loss of a parent in death or the loss of a husband or wife in adultery or divorce, or the terrifying experience of rape by any means, but by looking at life through the eyes of the Bible, we can choose to humbly say, “I can’t wait to see what good comes out of this.” God promises that He works toward the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Knowing that He is with us through even the tough times, no matter how we feel should give us encouragement. God is always with there for us, all we have to do is call upon Him in our day of trouble and He will deliver us and we will glorify Him (Psalm 50:15).
It seems that in order for us to call ourselves human, to be initiated into the human experience, we have to go through some terrible things. Would we be beneficial to the human race if we haven’t conquered anything? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord” (NIV Jeremiah 29:11a). Does God not know the plans He has for you? What kind of hope and future could we have if our life’s resume was blank?
Just like the tree, we are sometimes forced to wait on the Lord to cause a small wind to fill up our sails in order that we might move. At the same time, we also might have to wait on the Lord to grow us, to let it rain on us, even at our lowest state. We often see something as a terrible experience when God is actually going to use it to do a world of good through us. These experiences can help us grow not only spiritually, cluing us into the character and love of God, or mentally, enabling us to handle such situations in the future, but also causing us to have compassion for others who are suffering, guiding them to the place of peace and rest.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (ESV Isaiah 40:28-31).
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus