My first daughter was a go-getter. Right out of the gate she was pushing me away while I tried to nurse her. She has been a curious and independent person ever since, always full of ideas and determined to make it happen. She was walking at 10 months, running at 1 year and I haven’t been able to catch her since.
My second daughter…complete opposite. She nursed moments after being born and then slept contentedly for eight hours. She loved to cuddle. Wanted to be held often and didn’t walk until almost sixteen months. I thought something was wrong with her because of my experience with the first. It always amazes me how different all four of my children are and how it makes me panic a bit when they don’t act like each other! I’ve learned (and am still learning) to accept their differences and have found I love each of them even more for their uniqueness.
I’m bringing this up because there were seasons with my second when I really appreciated her laid back personality, and then there were seasons when I knew she needed to be pushed a bit for her own good.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I realize how very like me my second daughter is. I truly do not have much gumption. Left on my own, I’m pretty content to just float through life and not try too hard to do much of anything.
God has not allowed me to carry on in this way. Sometimes, I get really frustrated with the pushing he does. I mean, really, can’t I just do my thing and not get involved in the world around me? Do I have to do…stuff?
What I find even more annoying, is it seems that God’s way of growing me is to let me struggle. Does this happen to you, too, or am I the only one? At first, I didn’t understand this process, but then as I consider my laid back daughter, the light bulb starts to flicker and I begin to get it.
See, when my daughter was around that 14-16 month age, I was really worried about her lack of interest in taking steps. When she finally started trying out a few, I was overjoyed. So what did I do? Made her walk everywhere. She would always want me to hold her when we were out and about, and for awhile, I gave in. But, as she grew heavier and my back started aching with every step, I would set her down and make her walk, even when she fussed at me for it. I knew that if I continued to carry her around, her legs would not grow stronger and her balance would not get better. She had to struggle a bit so that she could grow. She didn’t like it. Neither do I.
Do you see where I’m headed?
God allows us to struggle a bit (or in some cases a lot) so that we can grow. If he continually gave in to our pitiful whining to be carried, we would not have the strength we need to run well in our faith. Our faith is made stronger when we face “trials of various kinds” (James 1:2-3).
I don’t like it. Not one bit. In my limited experience, not struggling is more fun than struggling. However, when I consider who I used to be and how God has transformed me from that angry, resentful, and depressed person…I am thankful. I didn’t enjoy the struggle. I wanted God to pick me up out of my situation and carry me over it, but instead, he let me walk through it. At times, he didn’t even hold my hand! The toddler in me pitched a fit. Whaaaaah!
But, he also never left me. He stood over me, cared for me the whole time, let me wobble and sometimes even allowed me to bump my head on the corner of the coffee table, but… he never left me.
Maybe you are in a situation right now where you are wobbling. Maybe God has allowed a trial to come into your life that threatens to knock you right onto your bum. Maybe you are angry, like I was. Maybe you are tired - been there, my Friend. Maybe you are wondering if God sees you or cares about how you feel. He does care very much, and so he is diligently refining your faith in the fire so that it will be steadfast. He cares deeply about your ability to trust him in all situations and seasons.
What’s more, at the end of this messed up, difficult and trying life, there is a crown to be had, and it is only for those who are faithful all the way to the end. Oh, by the way - being faithful to God isn’t something you can do. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is a product of the Spirit’s work in your heart. So if you just started to think it was up to you to be faithful to God, think again. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to do that.
I want to be one of those. I want to have genuine faith that develops into a steadfast love for God. I want that for my children, too. But, if we are going to run this race with strength and finish well, then we have to be willing to grow past the wobbly steps of our current faith. We cannot continue to be “double-minded, tossed on every wave” questioning God’s love and goodness every time life is hard.
God is gracious, and he will give us what we need to live this life with real faith, but it will be less painful if we stop whining about it, and just trust him.
My prayer for you and me today, is that we will ask God for the wisdom we need to get through this trial. I pray that as we take the next few wobbly steps of faith, we will find our balance is better, and the joy that is ours will push us to try a few more steps. I pray that we will see the delight in our Father’s face as we take more and more steps towards him, deepening our belief that he is who claims to be “the Father who has given them to me (Jesus),…and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29).
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:5-8 (ESV)
For further encouragement, study: James 1; John 10; 1 Peter 1