My husband accuses me of toothpaste tube abuse. He pushes the toothpaste up gently from the bottom. I crumple and twist impatiently until the toothpaste comes bursting out in a glob on the counter. In the midst of some recent circumstances out of my control, I've been hard pressed, definitely perplexed, persecuted and struck down. My clay jar is not feeling strong. It feels more like a twisted, stomped on, cracked tube of toothpaste.
I have taken my complaints to the Lord. He said this: Consider it pure joy... whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Ugh. Why can't I be "mature" without trials?
As I was
And here is what He said (in a nutshell), "You can be powerful, or you can be a victim. But you can't be both."
I think I'm re-learning something I already knew. Call me slow to catch on, but God is using these various trials to refine my character, so that the next time I'm squeezed, hopefully what comes out of me looks more like Him and less like me. That is why He tells us to count trials as joy. If we choose to, we can actually gain Christ-likeness in the midst of them.
The only thing I can control about these recent trials is my reaction to them. Therefore, from now on, I refuse to be a victim. I am resolved to be powerful, not pitiable. I am resolved to be faith-filled, instead of "woe is me." I am resolved to let this latest trial do it's perfect work. Although outwardly my clay jar is being relentlessly squeezed, inwardly, through faith and perseverance, the kingdom of God is being built up inside of me. Next time the enemy puts the "squeeze" on me, I have a feeling he will be surprised at what comes out. Faith. Power. Perseverance. And that's the idea.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
How has God worked a trial in your life for good?