CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Good Work
Our struggles may be opportunity in disguise
By Dennis Cooper
...And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
If road repair and construction projects are one of your pet peeves, I would strongly advise you to avoid the Cincinnati area at all costs. Especially the East side. It is just plain ridiculous. I catch myself at times in heartfelt and desperate prayer along orange barrels and cones, begging for the patience of Job that so eludes me when I am driving along with every other commuter in this area, seemingly to the very same parking spot and parking lot, at around a top speed of maybe 20 mph. The worst part for me is knowing that these projects take what seems like years to complete. There is a stretch of road here, US 32, that has been under some kind of ongoing improvement or construction since the late 1990's. I wish I was making that up. I also wish that I did not live about 2 miles from its most congested and bottle-necked area. I know that these projects will eventually lead to a smoother and quicker drive, but in the meantime, orange barrels are all I see.
On the path to sanctification and purity in Christ, we are going to find our own areas of congestion and construction. We will always be to some extent, a work in progress. However, the battle for control of our lives in this flesh is a struggle that we will not need to face alone. The very God who saw within us the life that would be His own, will see us through our struggles and trials in change, regardless of what they are. I dwell upon the reality of what Philippians 2:13 means for us all: "...for it is God who works in you the will to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." When we stop and meditate on what this means for our walk, it is inspiring and encouraging to know that God is not just on my side, He is working on me from the inside, continually. Our faith in the promise that God, through Christ Jesus, will see us through the process of holiness and purity should empower us to forge ahead in confidence, knowing that the work He saw and began within us all will be completed. It is by His very will that He will finish perfectly, what He began. This does not mean that we do not need to be obedient to His voice, or that He will do all the work for us. Change is work. Very hard work sometimes. But we are never to assume that this is to be accomplished under our own power and strength. Trusting that God will resolve the things that are counter to what He desires within us is the beginning of wisdom, and a marker of our faith. Our strong desire to do what is pleasing to God is parallel to our being willing to accept His divine intervention in our lives. He may choose to change us, rather than to change our circumstances. God may allow us to undergo some pretty uncomfortable situations for our own good. We may take detours and roads that are so foreign to what we are familiar with, that we may seem lost. Please remember: Our implicit trust in relying on the power of God rather than our own is the only clear path to victory. Philippians 4:13 gives us this promised assurance: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Paul did not here say, I can do this — he was saying, I can do this, with help.
Enter now, our Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us this in John 16:13-14: "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." The power of what the Holy Spirit reveals in our lives is from Christ Jesus. This is what the Bible says. It is for the glory of Christ Jesus. All things come back to Christ. Always. The changes in our walk bring glory to God through Him. It is what our God wants in our lives. He wants our reliance and trust, because it allows Him to love others through us. What does this all mean? Like I said, it always comes back to Christ Jesus...let us take a look at the last verse in this Chapter of John. It is the summary of the Gospel in three short sentences: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Friends, the heavy lifting has been done already. The hard part of redemption has been accomplished. Our struggles, really now, are opportunities to exercise our faith and rely on the power that is necessary for us to make it through the constantly improving areas that we call our weaknesses. Praise be to our God and Father who has found a way to call us to His own, despite ourselves. While it is true that we may always be under construction, it remains the most beautiful work in progress that is for our peace and eternal life, and His glorious name. Amen.
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Hardships | Jesus-Christ
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Published on 5-28-14