Originally published Thursday, 17 December 2015.
Jesus is on the throne, now and forever. It seems I've been reminded of this continually lately. Life's circumstances have clouded my vision a bit, but with this simple reminder, I have consistently been brought back to the truth.
Troubles lose their weight when we see and believe this reality deep within our souls. This truth gives us a heavenly perspective on the circumstances we face and allows us the ability to endure trials with confident assurance that our God is in control.
Now, I cannot pretend to know all the reasons why God allows difficulties into our lives, but when confronted with them, I often think about what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. He said, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need" (Philippians 4:11b-12, emphasis mine). Did you catch that? Paul learned how to be content. He learned how to face every circumstance thrown at him. Quite simply, we are not born with a propensity toward contentment, nor do we naturally face trials with joy, but we can learn to do so.
Elsewhere, Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings" (Colossians 1:24). James, the brother of Jesus, echoed Paul's sentiments when he said, "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). Trials are not meant to destroy us but are intended to test and discipline and strengthen and purify us.
We know that our God is good and faithful. We know God is sovereign and in control of all things. We know we are loved by God with a love that is far beyond comprehension. And we also know that it would be inconsistent with God's character for Him to allow difficulty into His children's lives that He did not intend for good. Our loving Father is not out to hurt us, but to mold us into the image of His Son, for our good and His glory.
James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him." During certain seasons of life, it can feel like we're made to endure one storm after another, but when this happens, we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus, "who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven," is not only with us in our battles but is fighting for us (Hebrews 8:1, Matthew 28:20, 2 Chronicles 20:17).
Right after Paul wrote about learning how to endure all things well, he said, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). This is the key, my friend. To live in complete and total dependance on Jesus––our Lord, our Savior, our Shepherd, our Counselor, our Prince of Peace, our Intercessor, our Advocate, our High Priest, our everything. May both you and I keep our eyes fixed on Him.
"To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!"
- Psalm 123:1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
- Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis mine
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
- Hebrews 4:15-16, emphasis mine
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
- 1 Peter 5:6-11, emphasis mine