Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12.
As I sit down to write my blog, I pour myself an Organic Nicaraguan coffee. The package assures me these coffee bins ‘ripened slowly for a sweetness and complex character typical of the region, shaded by native trees high on Nicaragua’s mountain slops.’ I washed my hair by Australian Spa Organics, found in the charity shop, an excellent product. I take a Belgian chocolate Hot Cross Bun, sold in M&S in January and it melts in my mouth, tasting such richness that it surprises me how much chocolate there! Wow! God’s goodness is overflowing in my life. ( By the way there will be lots of food illustrations here since the festive season is not long gone, and we all indulged a little bit too much, so please bear with me).
The closest thing to what I call a ‘trial’ at the moment in my life, was when one child got down with the seasonal flu. I had to carry him on my hip for a week. Now another one got it straight after and I have to carry him also. The other sees it and thinks, ‘oh, it was good last week, let’s cry and make her carry me again.’ So they both are competing for my sole attention and it is an energy sucker. In the future I might need a hip replacement from all the children that I’ve carried through the years! But this is an advanced difficulty that possibly might not come true. So I hope and pray.
While some of us Christians have it so good, others do suffer intensely. God in His Sovereignty purposed to place some under difficulties and persecution from the start. We can’t change it or do anything about it universally. Although, God does promise that each believer will face painful trials during this life. He warns us not to be surprised. The question is: if we are faced today with cancer, death in the family, trauma of any kind, uncontrollable children, can we face it and still remain strong and faithful to our beliefs by the grace of God?
I have been learning that circumstances don’t really matter that much when THE WAY WE THINK is re-adjustable. We could read the Bible for years and choose ONLY what is appealing. A classic example of that is a fact that I’ve recently noticed. One of my relatives told me about a particular nutritionist, highly praising him for this and that years ago. I was busy, didn’t really looked in to it at the time. Now, I bought his book and studied thoroughly. Turns out, he not only advises everyone eat good fat, as my relative informed me years ago. He explains how bad sugar is and we can’t feed it to the children and expect them to be smart while brain is 60% made out of fat! This relative of mine never even mentioned about the sugar bit… because she loves sugar so much, she can’t even think about giving it up. As years go by, out habits only get more set in their ways, and it is virtually impossible to change things anymore.
We could read the Bible in the same way. We leave the passages we don’t intend to apply, ignored. We don’t specifically pray over our own weaknesses. Guilty of that myself. I would admit it first myself. That’s how I know that others do it just the same.
What happens next? If we are not crucifying our carnal flesh actively, not asking the Lord to illuminate the sins that we keep on an anchor so keenly in our lives, we will seek the way to indulge in our sin instead. Just like hot cross buns. Traditionally they were produced to remind about Lord’s crucifixion. Even today they are often served in churches on a Good Friday after the service. Suddenly, they sell them all year round in the shops. And they are not plain with raisins; they are full of indulgent Belgian chocolate! No more focus on sufferings or the cross, just something to satisfy our pleasure-seeking taste.
As I was listening to pastor Tim Keller, he summed it up like that: ‘ If you seek after happiness, you will never find it; if you seek after righteousness, you will find both.’
As we wished each other ‘happy new year‘ I hope and pray, it included some possibility for intense sufferings and pain to take place if God purposes so. Those are tools that will chisel Christ in us better than any pampering ever will: ‘God loves you so much that He can’t leave you the way you are. His love isn’t pampering, it is perfecting.’
If we are not under intense persecution now, (that is a primary lesson that I need to learn at some point in life, it does take time, a lot of time), nothing should stop us from looking into what God says in the Bible about pain, fiery trials and an evil day that could easily come upon us at any time, no guarantees, and getting ready through prayer.
If we are not ready, it is going to crush our spirit. And you know what? If God wants someone to learn or experience something, He will do it. Only it could be more painful or less painful for us. If all that we want to eat are ‘chocolate hot cross buns theology’ as believers, it will be hard to swallow when it comes out way. But if we are ready to say together with Jesus, ‘not my will, but yours be done’, we can count on all the support from the Lord. That’s how Paul got up again and again after being left for dead and carried on serving Him till the end.
I just discovered that Italians make a bit of pasta with 12 egg yolks. One of the ladies on the photo was making pasta every day of her life since she was 4 years old. Now she is 86. When we need God’s strength, it will be like Italian pasta that is full of egg yolk. Our life will be full of the Holy Spirit to sustain us no matter what. This makes a heaven and earth difference in life. My mum made her dough as long as I remember for pelmeni ( a Russian dish that has dough & meat, cooked in boiled water – yum). She only puts one egg yolk there. It is delicious, and the minute she is through the door, my children put it straight on the menu. But imagine, now when I will introduce her to the Italian way of cooking?! I already know what she will say: ‘Wow, I lived my whole life and never tried that!’ Well, lets not miss out on what the Holy Spirit could offer in our life or what the Bible really says when we take it in all entirety & prayerfully. And does not matter how deep we tread into spiritual waters, we could never walk away from the centrality and simplicity of yet eternally meaningful essence of the cross & our sufferings. Not even if it is spiced up with oldest indulgence enhancer – the chocolate!
‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’ Jesus
Are we willing…