Ugly Doors Which You Will Need To Open

Jeff FAITH 1 Comment

What if I told you that you that it is essential for the good of your soul for you to experience some trouble. As a matter of fact, without some shake-ups in your life, you would remain a Kingdom toddler. If God does not allow some significant sifting and shifting through difficulty, you and I would hit our later years and still live in the equivalence of spiritual bottles, diapers, and pacifiers. You see, the Father is always working to develop something He loves to see in His kids. What is this thing that brings Him such joy? Character. Specifically, the character of His Son, Jesus.

“…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 5:3-4)

Before writing the rest of today’s post, I want to be clear and say that I really don’t know if I have truly suffered in life. There is no doubt that I have struggled immensely during challenging seasons. I am regularly inconvenienced, rerouted, denied, delayed and disturbed. I’ve been at a loss of hope and confidence many times. I have been depressed, afraid and oppressed by both human and demonic enemies. Yet, for me, I feel compelled to be honest and confess that true suffering is not really on my resume. I don’t live with any physical pain. By the grace of God, my mind is sound. I have learned how to keep my emotions where they belong, so I am not prone to fits of despair nor unfounded, ecstatic highs. Materially, I have enough and am content. So, when we touch on the topic of suffering, I want to release the disclaimer that most of us reading this have never suffered in the way that Paul’s writing audience had experienced or witnessed. The early Christians lived in a context of potential and actual suffering every day. Their family members had been fed to lions in arenas because they were Jesus-followers. Some of them had forfeited their property because they refused to deny Jesus. The earliest Christian martyrs, tortured and killed by Roman officials enforcing worship of the emperors, were socially despised by most of the citizenry in the empire. Mob violence against believers was frequent in those early years of the Church. By the way, it continued on like this for a couple of centuries. When I look at their reality, I think most of us can see that we have not really suffered because of our commitment to Jesus.

It was to these types of people that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, “Through Him {Jesus} we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings…” (Romans 5:2-3a). Suffering is an extremely ugly door which none of us longs to open. Yet, Paul matured to the place wherein he could declare that when suffering found him, he had learned to rejoice because he was confident that the ugly door would open up to something gloriously good. It was after the statement above that Paul went on to teach the flow chart of God’s process of maturing us through disturbance. Here it is in summary:

  • Suffering produces endurance in the Christian’s life.
  • The endurance through suffering produces godly character; we become more like the Savior who endured His own suffering.
  • As the character of Jesus is formed in us through pain, loss, struggle, or suffering, we find that, as we endure, we overcome and experience various levels of victory. Because of this, the development of character produces hope.
  • In the end of this equation, Paul stresses that hope leads to a life of freedom from dishonoring shame and immobilizing disappointment. That is what is contained in the Greek word translated shame in Romans 5:4.

So, we see that God’s allowing of whatever level of disturbance comes to our lives actually becomes a great apparatus to bring us into the fulness of what it means to know and encounter Him. We are delivered from the trappings of this chaotic world by God’s allowing some of it to touch our own lives. We triumph over fear by being ambushed by things beyond our control. When we overcome those things, fear is dethroned, and character is developed. When our bodies hurt or no longer cooperate with our healthy minds, we are forced to depend on God’s power in ways that we did not have to depend when our physical situations were more accommodating. We learn to endure and to daily overcome. We enter deeper spiritual realities because we no longer have the luxury of easy benefits in the physical realm. When we are mocked, rejected or persecuted as Christians, we are freed to love Christ more because His love for us, and His faithfulness to us, becomes a greater treasure when it remains strong in the face of the world’s hatred of us. I could give several more scenarios to illustrate this Kingdom reality, but I believe John the Baptizer phrased it best when He said in his own time of diminishing, “I must decrease. Jesus must increase.”

Please smile in yielded trust when you read my next sentence. You are often going to have to lose in order to win. Sometimes God places the greatest storerooms in His Kingdom behind the ugliest doors. Your loss of lesser things is often the gateway to your reception of greater things. The Father is very much into process, and He is taking you on a journey with Him. Physically maturing involves something called growing pains.  Spiritual maturing will also come with these catalysts for our grunts and groans. When we realize that we are accompanied by an amazing Shepherd in these times of disturbance, we experience victory. We rise above. We ultimately stand atop those very things which sought to overshadow us – we overcome. We become the head and not the tail. Death works against us, but life is produced within us. This is one predominant way that the Father invites us to experience Him in deeper fulness.

If we sidestep the trouble, we forfeit the triumph. If we evade the conflicts we refuse the experience of victory. Because of this, consider the challenges you are presently facing and, with a declaration of your dependence upon Him, expect to encounter the most treasured jewel in the Christian experience: intimacy with the Almighty.

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