This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Pastor Samuel Lamb (imprisoned for over 20 years, and persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ, by Chinese Communist Authorities), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The Lord's blessings are different to different people. Some people suffer physically or through illness, the only important thing is: how do we react? Some people suffer spiritually, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Again, the only importance is: how do we react?
There is no need for us to chase after miracles, but if we need a miracle: God specializes in miracles. The greatest miracle God can do in our lives is to give us peace, whatever the circumstances may be. A Chinese proverb says: 'A crisis reveals our character.' How do we react in terms of crisis? Do we get confused, angry, disappointed--in God and men? Or do we trust God--who is still in control? Our spiritual character must be built before we enter a crisis so that in the midst of the trouble we can draw from our spiritual knowledge and experience.
A moment of introspection: "I shall not be, I shall not be moved; I shall not be, I shall not be moved. Just like a tree, planted by the water, I shall not be moved." (Based on Psalm 1)
Catchy lyrics—yet, when applied to real life... Pastor Lamb reminds us that in our lives we face many trying experiences. We who are believers in the risen Christ know that, when we are troubled in life, "It is better to take refuge in Christ than to trust in man." (Psalm 118:8) James exhorted believers to "consider it pure joy...whenever you experience trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2-4) Pastor Lamb submits his contention that how we react to life's problems before we enter a crisis will determine our response within that crisis. If we respond to life's trials with confusion, anger, disappointment or some such response, then we are apt to likewise respond in the midst of a crisis. James felt strongly on that point, too. So, do we suffer physically? How do we react? Do we suffer spiritually? Likewise, how do we react? Consider it pure joy!
Reacting to life's problems with anger, disappointment or frustration might well signal a lack of trust in God for His ultimate resolution of the problem(s). But God may well give us the greatest miracle He can do, and provide a sense of peace in the face of problems. (Philippians 4:4-7) Solomon scribed in his book on wisdom, Proverbs, that Believers are to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6) Do these words imply an active or disinterested God, regarding our plight and our walk? No. (Acts 17:27-28) When troubled, the Psalmist pled with God to deliver Him, with Jesus to help him. (Psalm 70:1) He trusted God enough that, when trouble beset him, He called out to God for help--taking refuge in the Lord. Pure joy, unfathomable peace, whole-hearted trust, a God who cares, a Savior who healed us through His stripes? What resources will we employ, to meet our problems, learning from them to build our character for the day of crisis?
Let's build upon our spiritual character, and bring to bear God's own handbook that He's given us, in accomplishing this feat. Pastor Lamb gave us some ideas, some perspectives that might help in building character. He and we acknowledge that life has its share of problems. But the problems are not our over-riding concern. Of greater importance at such times, is our reaction to the problems. In responding to these problems, we are preparing for times of greater challenge, times of crisis. Would we respond with confusion? Seek wisdom and guidance from within God's Word. Would we respond with anger? Seek God's miraculous peace through prayer and in His Word. Would we respond with disappointment? Seek trust and assurance within the Scriptures. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience trials of many kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:2-4) What are we to make of all of this? Jesus himself said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV) God's miraculous peace, found in Jesus Christ. When we have troubles, how will we react? Trust God more. Call on Him in times of trouble. Remember, our spiritual character is being formed.