Enduring Trials

Dear Reader,

Our sermon this weekend was on Exodus 13. God is just beginning to lead the Israelites through the desert and He says He will take them the round-about way through more desert. The more direct route goes through the land of the Philistines. He says they are not ready for that yet. They will of course face off with the Philistines many times in the future. But our pastor’s point was that God knows what we can handle and right then the Israelites, fresh from slavery in Egypt, could not handle war with the Philistines yet.

The pastor mainly focused on the fact that sometimes we think we can handle things but God knows better. So we must trust Him when He says no, or at least not yet. Often though I think the opposite is true. God throws something our way and we don’t think we can handle it. I Corinithians 13:10 tells us that God will not test (or tempt, they are the same word) us beyond what we can bear. I hear this verse quoted a lot but I have always wondered what it means. What does it mean to be able to endure a trial? Does is mean we never falter? Does it eman we have “success” as the world deems success? Often I think we fail (by the world’s standards). We may become poor or outcast. We may lose a lot. That doesn’t mean we haven’t born the trial. We may even lose our lives for it. From God’s perspective I think bearing the trial means that we don’t fall into sin. It’s a fine line where sin begins when it comes to our attitudes in times of testing. Remember those Israelites? On the easy path, they complained and whined and tested God constantly. Finally they even built a golden calf to worship. It doesn’t sound like they endured their trial. How much worse could it have been if they’d gone down the hard road from the start?

Job is a good example of a person in the midst of trials. He loses his wealth and his kids all in one day. He also loses his support system which I think gets overlooked but must have been one of the hardest parts. His wife tells him to curse God and his friends are poor comforters, full of advice and not much commiseration.  It is just him and God. It sure seems like Job comes close to the line to me. He challenges God. He questions God. The one thing I guess he doesn’t do is turn from God altogether. In the end we are told that Job did not sin in all this. We should be so lucky. I think the main thing though is just to hold on. Just not to turn from God altogether. The Israelites pretty much did this. It is hard to excuse the golden calf. But Job for all his struggles with God and all his sorrow at least kept wrestling with Him. Like Jacob, he would not let God go. Maybe this is what it means to endure through trials. 

A slightly different application of this that occured to me relates to homeschooling. The sermon also mentioned that sometimes we are like God in the story on that we have authority over others and must consider what they can bear. Our children are one main area of authority of course. One criticism of homeschoolers is that we shelter our kids. Or conversely that we should send them into the public schools as a light to non-believers. I think this idea of giving what one can handle applies here. Yes, we are to be a witness to those around us. But can a five year old do this? For my kids at least I feel that childhood is a time of training. They are not thrown into the world. They are exposed to the world but that exposure is monitored. As they grow, they should be able to handle more and then will be given more.



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