Trials; March 8, 2023

Numbers 14:11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?”

Since God is omniscient this was a rhetorical question, but it was an important one to put to Moses and have recorded. It is amazing at times what short memories we have for God’s blessings and how long we cling to memories of hurts and difficulties. We really aren’t so different from these Israelites! Since it wasn’t written until thousands of years after this event it was out of the question, but the Israelites would have greatly benefited from the hymn, Count Your Blessings. However, we do have that hymn, not to mention the whole Bible, available to us. The devil hates faith and does all he can to discourage it, so we need to submit to God and resist the devil, just as James admonished us to do. (James 4:7) That very much includes choosing to trust, choosing to believe. Frankly, sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes the problems in front of us seem like an insurmountable mountain range, not even a single mountain. However, in retrospect all of that will seem like the wrinkles in the road that they really are, from God’s perspective. As Paul so perceptively put it, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) (I quote that a lot!) We are constantly searching for “the easy way out,” when God, being more interested in our character than our comfort, is trying to grow and strengthen us by teaching us to overcome all these obstacles. As Hebrews so incisively puts it, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) We need to learn to thank God for our trials. If we do, we will discover a peace and joy that will amaze us, not to mention the people around us, and they will want to know how we have such hope. (1 Peter 3:15)

Of course I’m talking to myself here. I’ve come further along this road than many, for which I’m grateful, but just like Paul, I can’t say I’m all the way there yet. However, I have definitely learned that grumbling, not just to others but particularly within myself, hurts me more than whatever the trial might be. I wish that knowledge kept me from doing it! I need always to remember that Jesus assured us that in this world we would have trouble, but in that same verse He promised us peace and victory. (John 16:33) I am very aware that apart from the devil I am my own worst enemy. The devil hates me, but he has power over me only as I yield to him. I need to follow James’ instructions to the letter, focusing on submitting to God so that resisting the devil will come almost automatically. (I do say almost, because my will is always involved.) I have seen even great saints fall into the devil’s traps, and I have no desire to be in that number. I need to focus on my Lord in gratitude, praise, and obedience, whatever is going on around me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the good report yesterday when I went back to the surgeon who operated on my wrist. Thank You that it does continue to improve, with greater mobility and less pain. Thank You for this lesson in “pushing through to gain the victory.” May I not just apply that to physical issues but to everything, so that You may be glorified as Your will is accomplished in my life. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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