A stumbling block

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me.  You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Matthew 16:23

Peter had just rebuked Jesus because of his prediction of his coming death and ressurection.

I live in a “feel good” world which sees hardship and loss as bad…and for many christians, hardship or trials are often viewed as ungodly.

If something is difficult it must not be of God.  As a christian have I given into the lie that my life should be easy without strife, destruction, sadness or loss?  Do I base my “success” as a christian on how well I do?

Yet God’s word promises that we will suffer trials.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”  1 Peter 4:12

Satan’s stumbling block.  He wants me complacent — walking through life with an attitude that puts my personal concerns and happiness above all others.  wants me to think that if bad things happen nothing good can come from them.

God doesn’t make bad things happen but we live in a fallen, broken world.  Bad things happen.

Bad things also happen because of my own decisions which are often made lazily, carelessly and thoughtlessly — or come as a result of worldly norms, customs and experiences.

Jesus knew what he was about to do when he rebuked Peter.  He was about to take the sin of the world onto his shoulders and die a terrible lonely death — separated from his Father.  But he also knew his resurrection would reconcile man to his right standing with God forever.

Jesus knew his trial would bring bring a positive outcome — the possibility for every man to experience eternal fellowship and intimacy with God … an experience that God had originally intended when he created man in his image.

But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13

The saddest and hardest trials in my life have led me directly to God’s throne of grace and mercy — when I realized I had nothing left and no capability in my own strength.  I have suffered loss — a child, my marriage, relationships, professional status and financial losses but now I also see how those losses have led to positive changes in my life.

Through my trials my understanding has changed about what God desires for my life and how he wants me to live.  He has shown me mercy, grace, comfort and peace and his word has become my criteria for living.

I have seen that the lie “an easy life is a successful life” leads to self-worship, emptiness and unhappiness.

But God’s truth, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him, (James 1:12)” has resurrected my life and as a result influenced the lives of those around me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

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