My wife collects tea. It used to be stuffed toys, but a couple years ago when we realized our guests had nowhere to sit when they came to visit, my wife bagged all her stuffed toys and gave them to the orphanage. I make it a habit to buy my wife something whenever I take a trip anywhere. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just something that shows her I was thinking about her. Since I’ve been traveling pretty much nonstop since we got married, and she forbade me from buying her any more stuffed toys, I started buying her tea. She has a big box full of teabags, and many of them don’t have labels on them anymore. You never know what kind of tea you will be drinking until you put it in boiling water. Only when the teabag is placed in hot water will you discover what is inside. At the onset all the teabags look the same, but after they’ve sat in hot water for awhile one begins to discern the differences in the aromas.
Sometimes God puts us in hot water to show us our true character. Believe me when I tell you it is not for His benefit. He already knows us, He knows our hearts, He knows our thoughts and desires, but as is often the case we have an inflated sense of self. We think ourselves so strong, so spiritual, so mature, that we stop leaning on God, we stop relying on Him, and then to show us the true measure of our impotence He will allow something in our lives, whether a trial, a hardship, or a setback, that will bring us back to the realm of reality.
It is also in the hot water that our character raises to the surface. In our times of distress our true nature, our true character comes boiling up to the surface, whether toward our honor or toward our shame. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. There are many who desire to sit and dine with Christ, to feast at the Lamb’s marriage supper, but far too few, desire to take His yoke upon them; far too few, desire to labor and to sacrifice.
Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
How else is God to search our hearts? How else is God to try us but in the fires of affliction? I know it is not popular, I know nobody wants to hear these things, especially now, but if not now when?
Isn’t it interesting that by the same flame wax melts, water evaporates but clay hardens? What are we? In the same flame, in the same fire of affliction some grow stronger, while others melt and evaporate, never to be heard from again.
Sooner or later trials and afflictions come upon all flesh. None is spared, but in the midst of affliction we see how differently two people can react to it. It is how we react to affliction; it is how we react to hardship and sorrow that defines us.
“But brother you don’t know what I’ve been going through. Nobody knows my sorrow as the song so aptly puts it.”
I might not know the specifics, but I do know what trials are, I’ve had my share, I do know what afflictions are, I still have my share, but I also know that God is allowing them in my life for a reason and a purpose.
I have never endured a trial from which I did not learn something. Whether concerning the greatness of God, the discipline of God, the love of God, the chastening of God, the mercy of God, or the righteousness of God, every affliction, every trial allowed me to grow, to understand and to mature. Sometimes the lessons are painful, especially when we are forced to shed ourselves of preconceived notions and ideas of who we thought God was, and what we were entitled to.
Often, and tragically so, we understand the value, the true worth of a thing in our lives only after we have lost it. We are perpetually thankless, absent of contentment, and although God bestows a myriad of blessings upon us, we overlook them and dismiss them readily.
If you have health, thank God for it, countless others do not. If you have a wife who loves you, or a husband who loves you, thank God, countless others do not. If you have children who obey you, thank God countless others do not. If you have found Jesus, and He is Lord of your life, and you feel His presence, thank God countless others have not. There are so many things, for which we ought to be thankful, for which we ought to fall on our faces and thank our heavenly Father.
Even when God puts us in hot water, it is reason to be thankful, because He sees beyond today, beyond present circumstance, to a future time when your trial and affliction having come to their rightful conclusion, worked together for good.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.