If God’s goal for our lives were peace, ease, and prosperity then I would agree that those things would be His ideal blessings for us. However, if His goal includes something else (and Scripture certainly indicates that it does), then it is probable that His blessings will include some other things as well.
According to the New Testament, God’s desire for us is ongoing transformation into the image and nature of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19; Romans 12:1). Since this is the case, then God’s blessings must necessarily include some things that will help us transform.
If a high school sports team has a goal to become state champions, their coach must assign them grueling tests and workouts that will develop a championship heart in them. They must be stretched, pushed, and challenged until they become champion caliber athletes. When the goal is a championship the coach cannot bless them with endless rest days and easy workouts.
The same is true for us. If God wants us to grow He must bless us with situations that cause us to grow. This isn’t fun and it’s never easy, but it is necessary. Perhaps our prayers of gratitude should go beyond thanks for the sweet and easy things. Perhaps we should add: “God, thank you for the battles that teach me how to fight…thank you for the trials that force me to grow…thank you for the tests that refine and grow my faith…and thank you for your commitment to never stop transforming me. I accept these blessings—none of them will be wasted on me. By your grace, I will transform. Amen.”
I am a “fixer” are you? My nature in nearly every situation is to try to help people “fix” whatever problem they’re facing. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dad or a pastor, or it might be from all of my years coaching various sports teams. Regardless of its origin, it is part of my nature to try to remedy broken situations.
That’s why it kills me when I can’t.
The most difficult situations for me are the ones that I can’t fix with wise words or encouragement. And that’s terribly problematic given my life vocation because in pastoral ministry I am constantly faced with both natural and spiritual problems that I’m not able to fix. I can hardly ever fix a spiritual problem on the spot. Sure, I can point people toward the ultimate answer, Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t always fix a problem in the moment. And quite frankly, people probably need my counsel far less than I think they do.
Fortunately, God is teaching me something in this season of my life that is freeing me from the pressure of being a self-perceived fixer. He is teaching me that sometimes love, not answers, is the best offering I can give. Yes, people need counsel. Yes, they need wise instruction, but sometimes they just need to step into a moment or an atmosphere of love.
Lately, when I leave a meeting or an interaction wishing that my prayer or counsel had changed everything in a moment, I am sensing the Spirit whisper to me, “Love-fueled listening and affirmation is never wasted.” It’s never a waste of time or effort to love and support a person. Even if we can’t immediately fix their problem or move them more quickly through their process, we can sustain them along the way. We can be a voice of faith, hope, and love that whispers in their ear, “You’re going to make it! You’re not alone in your struggle. I’m not the fixer but I know who is and someday you will see His remedying power again.”
If you have the answer for someone, great let them have it! But if you don’t, you still have what they need. Love.
Jesus didn’t warm up first. He didn’t select His disciples, preach a sermon, or practice His Son-of-God-fighting-skills on a few minor demons first—He went straight at Satan from the opening bell. As soon as He was given a green light to begin His ministry, Jesus attacked the strongman, successfully rebutting every temptation that Satan could throw at Him, and then, after parrying Satan’s best jabs, He demanded, “Away from me, Satan!” The Scripture then gives us a five-word outcome: “Then the devil left him.”
Are you engaged in any spiritual battles today? Are you sensing the oppression of any sinister spiritual force? Are you embroiled in any negative conflicts that seem to be winning the day, or do you feel hungry, lonely, or tempted to give into sin? Jesus showed us how to face those things. He modeled the truth that: Satanic activity flees in the face of Scripture-soaked, Christ-oriented resistance.
Where do you need to mount a resistance? Where do you need to make your epic stand?
Sometimes the big issues in our lives feel so overwhelming that they almost paralyze us. Sometimes it’s easier to procrastinate or rearrange our desks instead of diving headlong into our most necessary work. I love the fact that Jesus didn’t shrink from His toughest battle, but rather He ran straight toward it. That’s a hero worth following. That’s a king worth submitting to. And it makes me love Him even more.
The Scripture clearly tells us that the prayers of a righteous person are “powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Let’s stay engaged in prayer, let’s hold tightly onto our hope, and let’s follow Jesus’ lead into every area of our lives.