Tests and Trials

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

I remember in great detail the night that my past relationship came to an end. It seems that I write a lot about this experience, but there are many reasons why I do. Both the beginning and the ending of that relationship has shaped me to be who I am today.

We had our ups and downs, some disagreements on things, but that is normal for any relationship. I remember the night that I heard those heart crushing words, and how I was so surprised. I sat there looking out into the night in shock, wondering why.

As strange and surprising as it was, little did I know how God was going to use that brokenness to bring me, who was barely an infant in my faith, closer to Jesus.

I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.

Judges 2:22

God does not bring anything into our lives for the intent to hurt us. That is not His character. God is love. He is all-knowing, and knows what is best for every one of us. He wanted the best for everyone of us so much, that he sent his only son to die for our sins, that we may have everlasting life. He wanted the best for us even if that best thing is the ending of a relationship.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

James 1:2-3

It was through that suffering that my faith was tested. When I came to the crossroad of an ending relationship, I had two options.

1. Retreat to my old self.

2. Run towards Christ.

I say there were two options, but there was truly only one I was able to take. My old self was dead, that choice was impossible. Jesus is my only hope.

It was through that suffering that my faith was refined. As much as I love my friends and family, I didn’t feel drawn to them in this time of need. The only thing that I knew that would bring me comfort was the word of God, fellowship at Church, bible studies, memorizing scripture, praying to God, meditating on His promises, and trusting in the Lord with all of my heart.

We all face trials of different kinds. In those trials, Satan tries to make us feel defeated, as if there is no hope, and as if God is working against us. I am well aware that the devil is scheming after me daily, as it is written so in scripture (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:12). Even over a year after the fact, the devil just doesn’t quit.

But…

God is for us! Romans 8:31

God love us! John 3:16

God justified us by Christ! Romans 5:1-2

God saved us when we were sinners! Ephesians 2:4-6

God will never leave us not forsake us! Hebrews 13:5

God gave us a Spirit of power! 2 Timothy 1:7

God is working for our good! Romans 8:28

 

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Contentment in Singleness

This past Sunday at church, I shared part of my testimony with others about a struggle I have had for a while. When I first became a believer, I was in a serious relationship with a Christian. It was through her that I came to know Christ as my Lord and Savior. About six months after, I experienced a huge heartbreak as the relationship came to an abrupt end. Although the relationship was short, my mind was fixed firmly on the future of marriage. It was in this brokenness that I experiencing significant testing of my newly acquired faith. And since that day I have struggled with my singleness, longing for marriage. But at the same time, I have grown stronger in the promises of the Lord, and realized there are many blessings of my singleness. That I can and should be content exactly where I am.

Remain As You Are

The scripture that I have constantly referred to for encouragement is Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 7, where he makes “a concession, and not a command” (v.6) to remain as you are. He is neither commending marriage nor opposing marriage. The same with singleness, he is neither commending it nor opposing it.

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

1 Corinthians 7:27

What Paul is saying, is to be content in the Lord wherever you are in this very moment, whether you are single or married.

I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:35

And this is the reason for the concession: that we may increase our undivided devotion to the Lord, whether you are married or single. Paul understands in his singleness how much time he is able to devote to the Lord, and that is his wish for everyone. This is encouragement because I know that the believers in Corinth struggled with this same thing, so much that Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit to include this encouragement and advice in his letter.

“Someone Special Just For You”

So back to my story. Before the worship service began on Sunday, I found the spot that I typically sit in. One of the couple that heard my testimony proceeded to sit behind me. They began to thank me for sharing this struggle with them and the others that were sitting at our table. They began to talk about their marriage, and the difficulties, struggles, and blessing they have experienced. (Side note: This just shows the importance on sharing our struggles with each other). They made a few elbow poking jokes back and fourth to each other, which I always find humorous.

We had a good few minutes of fellowship, and towards the end of the conversation they spoke a line that I’ve heard many time. “God has someone special just for you”. I know that they were meaning it for good, and trying to encourage me. So I smiled, nodded and thanked them. But sometimes hearing that line can be discouraging.

Singleness in the Church

Maybe in this moment of my walk in faith I’ve grown a little weary of being single in the church. It can sometimes feel that singleness is not encouraged as much as marriage is encouraged. I feel that the culture of this world has somewhat impacted the church culture in this area, that we must find someone else to be complete. Singleness can seem to be portrayed as a season that we are in, a valley that we are walking through. Looking at singleness in that aspect can make me wonder “how long will I remain in this condition?”. This can bring much discontentment and feelings of incompleteness in singleness, which is the complete opposite effect of the message from Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.

Contentment in Singleness

A few months back, I met with a brother in Christ for coffee. One of my friends that lived the same life style with me years ago, and was also saved a few years before I was. So we have a special bond, as we can relate on many levels. He knows of my struggle, and asked me if I was ready to start dating again. I paused and thought about the question for a bit. It was one that I’ve contemplated on my own, but for some reason hearing it from someone else made me think even deeper about it, and out came the following response.

If I am not fully content and fully satisfied in Jesus during my singleness, I will also not be fully content and fully satisfied in Jesus if I were in a relationship.

No friend, no family member, no church member, no girlfriend, and no wife could make that happen. Sure each one of those persons provide encouragement for me to seek the Lord, and help build me up as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), but to be fully content and fully satisfied in Christ will have to come from deep within.

Until that happens, I will be serving the Lord with all of my heart, all of my mind, all of my soul, and all of my strength, until He has transformed me to be that man fully satisfied in Christ alone. It will be a struggle, but it is so worth it. God knows my heart, and He does not withhold anything good from his children (Psalm 84:11, Romans 8:28). I may get married in the future, and I may remain single in the future. Either way, in this very moment, singleness is the good thing from God that I truly need.

What’s the Message of the Bible in One Sentence?

This evening I came across a link that asked 26 pastors and professors, “what’s the message of the bible in one sentence?”. Before I begin to read their answers, I decided to give it a go myself.

God, who is the creator of everything, reconciled His people through the blood and sacrifice of His only son Jesus Christ, that whomever may believe in Him, will receive forgiveness for all their transgressions, and have everlasting life in the presence of His glory, living in victory in the new Heaven and new Earth.

After a few edits, the above sentence is what I came up with. This little exercise was pretty tough. There is so much packed into His word, that it is impossible to sufficiently define the message of the bible in one sentence. I’d suggest giving this a try for yourself. Just sitting down and trying to write/type out what the bible means, I was blessed and just in awe of how wonderful the gift of the bible is to us.

And here are their answers:

http://dogmadoxa.blogspot.com/2011/01/whats-message-of-bible-in-one-sentence.html