How we perceive things, understand things, and view things influence how we respond and react. God’s Word gives us God’s perspective on matters. Through His Word, we see things as He views them not as the world views them. Becoming a disciple is all about changing our perspective to match God’s perspective. This is why we are told in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” We do this by immersing ourselves in God’s Word. We must never discount the importance of God’s Word to our spiritual maturity. Be reminded that God has exalted His Word above His very name (Psa. 138:2b)!! That’s how important God’s Holy Scriptures are to Him and should be even be more so to those called by His name. The Bible is a counter-culture to the world’s culture. As I read the Word I become more and more convinced of how much the world has subtly influenced our thinking and how desperately we need to have our minds renewed if we are going to be fit to be used by the Lord.
As I read the Word concerning trials, I am even more convinced that my mindset needs a serious overhaul. Truly, the more I read God’s Word the more I have to accept that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways than my ways (Isa. 55:9). Many of us, and I must confess that I was among the ‘us’, feel that when we face trials it’s always because we have done something wrong. We immediately start to rehearse our recent actions, thoughts, attitudes and ask God to reveal what we have done to deserve this adversity so we can make things right. We automatically believe that trials mean we are in God’s bad books. But I began to reflect and asked myself, “If our trials are because we are not in the will of God then how do we explain the trials that Joseph, David and Job went through when they had not done anything wrong. Our greatest example, Jesus, was tempted but was without sin and faced many trials, even the agony of His Father turning away from Him as He bore our sins upon the cross.”
As I read about Joseph, my reflections continued. Joseph simply shared a dream from God because he dared to believe that God had spoken and all hell broke loose. He chose to do right and not give into the advances of Potiphar’s wife and ended up in prison. Was he in God’s will? Definitely he was. It seemed that everything was going wrong but God was working character in Joseph so he would be ready for the great dream to be able to come to fulfilment. There must have been times when Joseph wondered “what have I done to deserve all of this? Have I sinned and displeased the Lord? I thought God loved me. I thought I was going to be a great ruler and here I am in prison.” No matter his circumstances, he continued to commit himself with excellence and he was noticed because of it. In spite of everything he dared to be different, to be righteous. That was the reason his destiny was fulfilled. He continued to represent the Lord and it was when God knew that his character had been moulded through adversity and He could now trust him that God allowed him to be brought out of obscurity and to be promoted to the position that he had been showed in his dream many years before. He had been tested and passed with flying colours!! The greatest words he spoke to his brothers are the words we need to remember when the going gets tough. “God sent be before you to preserve a prosperity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So it was not you who sent me here but God and He has made me a father to Pharoah and Lord of all his house and ruler throughout Egypt (Gen. 45:7-8)”. In other words, the brothers meant it for evil but God turned it around for His good. God had a purpose for everything that Joseph went through. Because God is an intentional God. Nothing happens to us by chance.
We all have to go through testing, the refiner’s fire, to be made ready for the Father’s use. Even Jesus, right after His baptism and the Father speaking words of affirmation regarding how pleased He was with Him, was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. His Father was pleased with Him and He still had to go through testing! Why then do we believe that we do not have to go through the same type of processing to be made ready? James 1:2 tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Our journeys towards our destiny are all different but we all have to go through the same process. Paul said,
“And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11, AMP, emphasis mine).
We all want the resurrection power of God to be manifested in and through us. But for that to be possible we must be willing to go through sufferings so that we die to self (our own will, self-centredness, selfishness, self-destruction) and be inwardly conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus. Fit for the Father’s use!!