As we readied to say goodbye to 2009 and ring in 2010, I read many Facebook statuses and heard people saying something like this:
I am ready to be done with 2009. I hope 2010 is a lot better. This was a bad year.
I sure can identify with that statement. I was feeling the same way at the end of 2008, and I'm pretty sure I felt that way the year prior as well. It seems there were plenty of hardships that seemed unbearable at times and just wanted to get past them.
Yet I guess it really struck a cord with me this time as I heard it coming from so many people. I understand what it's all about. Unemployment has been widespread. I have friends who have returned to school who are trying to juggle family with that new adjustment in the mix. Some have lost loved ones to death. The list of pressures and heartaches goes on and on.
What if we change our perspective, though? What if we look at what God says about all of our struggles of 2009 and what they amount to? Would our perspective change?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)
Do you see the problem with our perspective on trial? The very things we are ready to escape by turning the page of a calendar are the things God has ordained for us to experience to grow our precious faith. The apostle Paul calls it a faith that is "more precious than gold that perishes." And to what end? That I might bring praise and honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
But I just want to be happy, you might be saying. Yeah. Me too. Let's be honest, though. Happiness is relative and passes quickly.
The truth of it is, we have been called to suffering. Let me say that again. Christians have been called to suffering. Are you cringing right now? It's a hard truth, I know. How can you read 1 Peter 1 and come to any other conclusion, though? He says that these trials that grieve us will prove the genuineness of our faith. They make it precious. They make it valuable. They make it real.
This truth is something I have had to learn in the last few years and something I continue to wrestle with because just like everyone else, I crave comfort, not trial. The real question is, what am I living for? Comfort, ease, everything going my way? Or do I live for the Lord Jesus Christ, hope of heaven, eternal rewards, and a faith to call more precious than gold?
Whatever God has planned for your 2010, it's my prayer that you and I trust Him and cling to Him as our only Source of goodness. When He gives you the dearest desires of your heart and unexpected joys, thank Him. And when the suffering and hardship come, thank Him... because He loves you so much He wants to grow your faith. Will you let Him?
God is good all the time. All the time God is good.