What are we willing to accept from the hand of the Lord?
Generally, we have a theology in America that freely accepts blessing as from the Lord, but really struggles to believe that hardship can come from Him, also.
Figuring it out the source of hardship requires discernment. And discernment is developed only in intimate relationship with God. And relationship takes time. And time is at a premium for us all.
So, we are left with a rather shallow belief system that says, “Good comes from the Lord and hardship comes from Satan.”
Sounds simple enough.
The only problem, and it’s a big one, is that perspective leaves us resisting, rebuking and ultimately denying hardship or convinced that we just don’t have enough faith to avoid it.
It never enters our mind that some hardship is from the Lord, or is allowed by the Lord, and therefore is working for our good.
Just ask Peter, when it was time for the testing of his faith. (Luke 22) Or ask Paul, when visions from God risked giving him a big head (2 Corinthians 12).
In both instances, God used, even allowed, hardship for Kingdom purposes in the lives of these two choice servants.
Hardship and blessing. Both from the hand of God?
The Psalmist thinks so.
“For You, O God, have tested us; You have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid a crushing burden on our backs; You let men ride over our heads…”
We can quote Deuteronomy 28:13 all day long about being “the head and not the tail” but, if God is allowing men to ride over our heads, it must be for a divine purpose and therefore for our good.
The Psalmist continues…
“We went through fire and through water… YET You have brought us out to a place of abundance.” (Psalm 66:10-12)
Blessing and hardship.
Both from the Lord.
There will obviously be times in our lives when the hardship will be an attack of the enemy. Ephesians 6 tells us so and describes the spiritual weapons we have been given in order to resist him.
But, even in those instances, based on Satan having to ask Jesus’ permission to attack Peter (Luke 22:31), I believe Jesus has to approve it and is interceding for us with the goal that, when we come through the hardship, we will strengthen the faith of those around us.
Here is the bottom line.
“All things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28)
Blessing and hardship.
And the “good” that results is that we will be “conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29)
Without this understanding of God’s working in us at all times and in all things, we risk rebuking, denying and trying to escape the very things God is using conform us into the image of His Son.