Summary: God uses trials in our lives to strengthen our faith and to bring us to maturity. When trials come we should keep the long view and remember He has our best in mind.
Growing Through Trials
April 9/10, 2005
God uses trials in our lives to strengthen our faith and to bring us to maturity. When trials come we should keep the long view and remember He has our best in mind.
It’s the time of year when the lawns are all nice and green. Lawnmowers are up and running - and some people - the ones who really like to mow - are putting fertilizer on their lawns. Nice little chemical pellets. But that’s not what farmers use!
I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and didn’t spend much of any time on a farm, but I remember shortly after moving to Canby in 1992 riding my bike out around some of the farmland in town and smelling the absolutely worst smell I can remember. I thought that the sewage line had broken somewhere - I mean it just about knocked me over. Then I realized what it was - nearby was a truck that was full of manure of some sort - evidently to fertilize the fields. I really had no idea that that was how my vegetables on my plate got to me - through the use of manure that smelled so terrible. (To this day I wonder how the “fertilizer truck man” does it!)
I wonder who it was that first discovered that manure mixed in the soil with plants would help them grow to maturity faster, and bear more fruit than without. Whoever it was - perhaps they found the principle in the Bible. Because it is a clear teaching of scripture that if we want to grow to maturity in our Christian faith, if we want to become strong and bear spiritual fruit, one of the things we’ll need is....fertilizer. Yup, dirty stinking fertilizer. Stuff that on the surface seems to have no purpose except to smell up our lives, but, when put in the hands of the master gardener, causes us to grow to maturity. I’m talking about the trials and adversities that all of us face from time to time in our lives.
I want to answer two questions today about the “fertilizer” of adversity in our lives:
Why do we need adversity?
How should we react when the fertilizer of adversity is plopped into our lives?
And to answer this, I want to use the text of 1 Peter 1:3-9 as our home base so let’s read it together now.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you,
5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
7 These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Why do we need trials?
So that our faith may be proven genuine (v. 7).
Without trials we do not need faith very much.
If we want genuine faith, it needs to be exercised.
ILLUS: On December 29, 1987, a Soviet cosmonaut returned to the earth after 326 days in orbit. He was in good health, which hasn’t always been the case in those record-breaking voyages. Five years earlier, touching down after 211 days in space, two cosmonauts suffered from dizziness, high pulse rates, and heart palpitations. They couldn’t walk for a week, and after 30 days, they were still undergoing therapy for atrophied muscles and weakened hearts.
At zero gravity, the muscles of the body begin to waste away because there is no resistance. To counteract this, the Soviets prescribed a vigorous exercise program for the cosmonauts. They invented the "penguin suit," a running suit laced with elasticbands. It resists every move the cosmonauts make, forcing them to exert their strength. Apparently the regimen is working.
We often long dreamily for days witout difficulty, but God knows better. The easier our life, the weaker our spiritual fiber, for strength of any kind grows only by exertion. (Craig Brian Larson)