Gospel Truths For the Wait

A few of my regular readers have thanked me for being so “real” on this blog. I guess I don’t view it was being “real” but just as being a sinner who lives in a fallen world who shares her life with others like me. Life happens and sometimes in ways that hurt, disorient or tempt us. Your thanks to me shows you find comfort in the truth that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13.). Our struggles are common, and knowing that others deal with similar difficulties can bring comfort and hope. I hope that happens for some of you again today.

I love the first half of that verse.  But, honestly, the “that you may be able to endure it” is disturbing to me sometimes. I want it to end with “that you may be able to escape it.”

I was recently interacting with a friend that is going through tough times with some close family members. Like me, she would like to escape the situation because enduring it is uncertain. Will these loved ones make right decisions? Will they reach to God for help? What could be the longterm outcome of unwise or sinful choices? How long might she have to wait and pray and trust God with these weighty situations that are understandably testing her faith, keeping her awake at night, and producing heart wrenching temptations to fear and anxiety?

I sent the following words to her this weekend that encouraged her soul and mine. The comfort wasn’t in my words, but in the gospel truths that lie in them. These are truths I’ve been taught for years by dead authors, wise preachers and caring friends. If you are going through some tough times with someone you love, I hope they will feed your soul today, too.

The story ISN’T over!!  It wasn’t over when you and I were young adults.  It wasn’t over when we sinned and did things that could have had incredibly damaging and longterm consequences in our lives.  It wasn’t over for my mom, who become an alcoholic in her 30’s and nearly destroyed her life, but who lived her last 25 years free from her addiction and fully devoted to God.  It’s never over when God is involved.  Grace really ISN’T resistible for long.  Our loved ones cannot run out of the reach of grace.  The gospel and it’s clutching power is not dependent on their (or our) desire or ability to hang on.  Because Jesus died and rose again, there is no hole they can dig or cave they can run into that allows them to remain hardened to the love and pursuit of a God whose strength and power is utterly unmatched by any person or idol or lust or sin.  But, oh the pain that waiting means!

The truth is this:  God will get us through, my friend.  He will be faithful.  He has proven Himself good and strong.  We will look back in years to come, whatever happens with those we love and whatever choices they make (good or bad) and however long it all takes and we WILL say “It is well with my soul.”  Whether we have to go through many more dangers, toils and snares the grace that has brought us safe thus far WILL lead us home.  It will.  And on That Day we will see the wisdom, goodness and love of God in it all.  Until then, we will struggle and hurt and cry.  But this will end.  Whether on this earth or in heaven (and we never know when we’ll get there — tomorrow or 30 years from now) it will all be over.  

He is faithful.  He just doesn’t usually work on our time table.

So, Lord, help us to trust You, especially with delays that test our faith. You really are in control.  And You really are good.  Always.

What’s In My Heart?

Wednesday night at our Community Group we had a great discussion and ministry time with someone in our group. Prior to that discussion, we read an article by Paul Tripp on how easy it is to apologize — or even ask forgiveness — without stopping to consider the heart issues behind the things we do and say that hurt others.

Some people wrongly assume this kind of thinking is a sin hunt.

As Christians, we need to regularly (daily!) remind ourselves that we are forgiven and declared not guilty of every past, present and future sin because of the sinless life, substitutionary death and glorious resurrection of Jesus. What incredible news! As believers, we will never pay for our sins because He already did. If you are not yet a Christian, I pray you will become one soon because this news is just too wonderful to pass up!

Yet this staggering truth doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to invest what author Jerry Bridges describes as the  “personal, vigorous effort, anchored in the grace of God, that the sanctification [growing in godliness] process requires.”

This means that I can’t simply say to my husband, “I’m sorry I was mean to you. You know I’m really tired and have been struggling with a lot of stuff recently.”  While I certainly appreciate his understanding, the truth is that I’m mean because I choose to be. If my friend or a client or a grandchild was in the room I wouldn’t be harsh with them. No matter how tired I was.

I have been going through a rough time recently. And I’ve been mean to my husband. But this I know: any time I am convicted of wrong or sin, it’s a gift from God. Without Him, I would go on my merry way hurting lots of people in the process — especially those I am closest to and love the most.

Don’t worry about me going on a sin hunt. Trust me, I don’t have to hunt for my sin. It’s typically right out there, unless I’m using self-control because I don’t want just anyone to see it. When God opens my eyes to see it, I’m grateful because conviction of sin is an evidence of God’s mercy and work in my life. He doesn’t just show it to me, but then helps me to identify the root in my heart that allows me to think and act and talk in ways that hurt others and dishonor Him. THEN He gives me the strength and desire to change. Wow.

If you’d like to read Mr. Tripp’s helpful and honest article, you can find it here.

Have a good weekend!