Often the challenges we face today prepare us for the challenges we'll face tomorrow.
Over three years ago a dear friend of mine sent and e-mail with these slides. I admit I don't know the origin of the slides, but when I came upon it again today it really spoke to my heart. Each of us has been given a cross to bear. We face challenges of all kind. In fact, it’s a guarantee that we will have trials and tribulations as long as we’re citizens of planet Earth. The Word tells us, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Even though we know that other people also have challenges and heavy weights to carry, we sometimes feel all alone. We feel disconnected and isolated. Even when we consider other people’s pain, we are tempted to believe that they don’t have it as bad as we do or that they’re better equipped to carry the load.
So we pray. We ask for relief from our burdens. We ask for quick resolution to our problems. We earnestly pray for the season to pass. We petition the throne seeking God’s hand (not necessarily His will).
So God’s permissive will allows us to shed some of the weight. He lightens the load and makes us a bit more comfortable.
Our burdens are a little lighter while others are still dragging their load. We have a noticeable pep in our step or a song in our heart because God truly answers prayers. We rejoice because He came to the rescue.
So we march on. Our weight is noticeably lighter and yet we get weary. Though the load has been lightened, we are not satisfied. It’s still too much for us to handle.
So again, we pray. We want our lives to be filled with ease. We want to flow without unnecessary obstacles. We want to run when the Word requires us to be still (Psalm 46:10). We think we know what’s best for us. So instead of seeking God’s perfect will, we seek His permissive will.
So again, God allows us to lighten our load. We cut down our cross. We shed the heaviness of the weights and we feel better.
Once the burden is lifted, we truly rejoice. We thank God for hearing our prayers and answering our pleas. We look back at the weight we were carrying and feel a sense of relief that it’s gone and that we never have to worry about it again.
We look around at others who are carrying heavy weights and think to ourselves, that we’re such mature Christians. If only they knew what we knew, they wouldn’t be stressed. We secretly think that they need to be more like us. If they would only pray without ceasing, then they too could have a lighter load. We push ahead of the crowd because our burdens are truly light.
Then we come upon a greater obstacle and we don’t know what to do. We’re stranded. We have no equipment to help us navigate the new challenge. All we have is the sawed of cross. All we have is our limited experiences. We are weak because we haven’t exercised our faith or any of our spiritual muscles. We’re ill equipped to face what’s before us.
We look around once again, and we notice the people we left behind. We notice how mature they now seem. We notice that those who stayed in the fire are a lot more refined. We notice that they built up muscles under the heavy load. We notice that they have amassed experiences that they can use to face greater challenges. We see that their cross has become their bridge and that they can easily navigate the gap.
We recognize that our desire for an easy load has actually handicapped us. Now we finally realize that the past challenges were only preparing us for what was to come. We realize that we were short-sighted in our pleas for relief. We now understand that there is a big difference between God’s permissive will and His perfect will.
Our lack of faith and impatience actually slowed down God’s plan for our lives. Now all we can do is humble ourselves and pray. This time our prayer will be different. This time we will seek His face and not His hand.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11