Seeing Through Trial
Romans 8: 28 “For God causes all thing to work together for good…”
Some of you who will examine this short discussion are in the midst of a severe trial. It could be due to circumstances beyond your control…or as the result of a sequence of choices made that led to a catastrophic result take courage…..More….
I know a little about trial. So what I’ll share won’t be academic but it will be based on my experience in the journey of my faith that is at least authentic. The last thing I would want to convey is some “pollyanish” resolution of the nature of trial when it rocks our faith. Mine did, and I suspect there will be more in the future. I want to convey though if you’re in a trial I understand it having counseled folks over the years and seeing the pain it causes I know it can reinvent everything you believe and when you thought you were solid all of a sudden trial reveals us as we truly are, all broken in need of repair and the remedy is ultimately one thing….
And the revealing of who we are to ourselves is tough, tough, tough. Like a spiritual desert….
There was once a prince of Egypt. A remarkable story by the way who was an abandoned baby by circumstances beyond his control and the control of his parents who one day found himself cast adrift by his own mother in a river with the hope someone would find mercy and take him in. His journey began against all odds and a seemingly a hopeless endeavor.
But the unthinkable happened! That little baby was found but none other than the daughter of Pharaoh himself the greatest ruler of the known world at the time. Pharaoh’s daughter took him in. In fact Pharaoh’s daughter understood his plight and the reasons of his abandonment. He was a slave, condemned to die without hope. His name was Moses which means “I drew him from the river”
And thus began the life of Moses really a fairy tale of sorts. He’s raised by the daughter of Pharaoh as a “Prince of Egypt,” from a slave to royalty. For the next forty years he receives the best education and exposure to a life of royalty, power, prestige and honor, his grandfather (or step-grandfather) is Pharaoh himself imagine that! And everyone…that’s right everyone is aware of this little baby remarkable turn of events, the Hebrew slave who became a prince. Are you sure about that you might ask? Undoubtedly, look at Exodus chapter one. When Moses is retrieved from the river, it’s the princess and her attendants in plural who witness the event. The princess says “This is one of the little Hebrew babies” being retrieved from the river. Moses sister is even at the scene and witnesses his retrieval from the river and immediately approaches the princess and offers to have Moses weaned as Miriam “knows a Hebrew midwife who can do it.” It would be absurd to think Moses mother and the princess in God’s providential plan did not directly communicate at one point in the early life of Moses! It would be even more absurd to think the whole Egypt palace wasn’t aware of this soft conspiracy to adopt this “Hebrew baby” and raise him as one of their own. I always wondered if the princesses heart was softened at what her father was doing in the killing of the Hebrew babies in some savage form of population control. It makes perfect sense. There no more willing advocate for a helpless child than the female image of God on earth. Mother’s are intrinsically wired to protect children.
But I digress…
The deeper observation is Moses knew who he was, and where he came from. There wasn’t a concealment of the fact although I suspect Moses presence in the royal Egyptian family was a bit of a scandal! Kinda like the pile of coal I Pharaoh’s ballroom! This is why in Exodus 2:11 we find Moses down near “his people” when he observes the Egyptian task master beating the Hebrew slave. He was identifying with his roots which explains (not justifies) the Biblical text record of Moses actions “He looked around, and killed (murdered) the Egyptian. (Exodus 2:11-13).
For 40 years Moses had grown up in the royal court and knew who he was and he must of concluded he was the ordained champion of the Israelites. I imagine Moses (like me) would of thought God put him in this position to ultimately champion their cause even “lead them to freedom.” Undoubtedly Moses as a Hebrew knew the story of Joseph as well the great Hebrew deliver Undoubtedly Moses thought along these lines as in verses 14-15, the day after he committed murder He’s out arbitrating between two Hebrews breaking up a fight when he’s rebuked. All of us sudden the dream explodes. He’s not seen as a champion at all and in a short order Pharaoh has the opportunity to rid the royal family of a political problem so he sentences Moses to death (v 15). How could things have gone so horribly wrong? Moses flees for his life.
One of the most sobering aspects of our faith is how often when we think we’re getting it right or we thinking we know God’s intent or direction for our life we’re actually misguided. As Christians this is a sobering truth of our faith.
I can’t help but reflect in my own life when I was so sure when things panned out so definitely that I was aligned with God, on the right track, but in fact my heart was far from his plan for my life. Perhaps this has been part of your journey? We know the aftermath, brokenness, and often a trial of such severity it unwinds our faith. Moses goes in one day from being “Prince of Egypt to a wanted murderer with a death sentence. I can’t imagine the depth of that fall. Some of us have experienced such a fall as well, maybe not in the likes of Moses but one that’s left devastation in its wake when the unthinkable happened.
The Bible tells us for forty years afterwards Moses served a shepherd in the desert. That’s right…..
Consider this. As a prince Moses had an idea of the trajectory of his life, just like us he had plans. I imagine after the collapse there were many, many nights while sitting in the quiet of the desert tending sheep asking God “why?” “What just happened?” His life was over and like us devoid of clarity or understanding. In such circumstances we often regret the path that led us to brokenness; the path that completely changed the course of our lives. Undoubtedly Moses regretted killing the Egyptian. How much regret there must have been? “If only I had the chance to do it over.” Sound familiar? Moses impulsive self righteous actions backfired and as a result he lost everything…everything. And after forty years of second guessing himself his confidence was broken. We gather that from how broken he is when he meets God face to face, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt? (3: 11) “For I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” (4: 10) Id argue that’s the response of a broken man not an arrogant one.
God had him just like us sometimes, broken with nothing and no one else to rely on and now Moses was ready to be used by God.
That’s how God does the work of His Kingdom. Not by power and might, (Zech 4: 6) but through the brokenness and imperfection of His children. “Power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12: 9). When Moses had lost everything he had relied on he was truly ready to be the man God intended him to be.
I know something of trial. The particulars aren’t important presently but I know what it’s like to look to anything or anyone to deliver me from circumstances that were so painful they eclipsed my life and while I continued to have my eyes set on deliverance God, graciously allowed the trial to continue, painful it was an overwhelming, He was bringing me to a point of brokenness.
Our focus verse (Romans 8: 28) is often used to make the body of Christ feel better, (often from the pulpit) and often interpersonally among believers. What’s often left out are the verses proceeding it which read as follows.
“ In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words. And he who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Spirit and the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with the will of God. Notice the expression before the great promise of Romans 8:28, a human spirit weak, broken in such pain Gods Spirit intercedes with passionate intersession before the throne of our great and mighty God. Notice the weakness and the pain is in the context of the very will of God.
I take comfort in the fact when the pain is overwhelming and I feel like drowning, God’s Spirit is praying for me holding me up from a complete crash.
There is no such thing in this passage or in the Christian life as the great promises of God being separate from great spiritual struggle; or what we would call trial…..
Our “40 years in the desert” may be so painful it’s hard to get up and face the next day. The loss you’ve incurred may seem unbearable in it’s impact and the damage irreparable. Sometimes our faith is just that, seemingly irreparable. I have found through my own brokenness God shows up, in His time when it seems I can’t bear anymore, and usually at the time the situation is so unbearable I’ve lost hope. And for 36 years as a Christian, every time He’s showed up taking me to the edge and allowing me to peer down into the dark until I started to focus on the hand that was holding me from dropping into the abyss.
Ide like to tell you how I can see what God was doing during these times. I can for a few of them but more often than not the mystery eludes me. But I’ve gotten better over the years at not needing to know the answers and the why of particularly hard trials but learning to tell myself, “Ok God here’s another one, I know your credible and with me, until your kingdom comes…”
That’s my prayer anyway.