Let’s imagine for a moment that you were given a survey. It was your job to carefully review the options and decide which item you wanted to endure. Just for fun, read over this list and see which one you might choose:
1. A root canal
2. A broken garage door spring (you are still in the car in the garage)
3. A letter from the IRS that asks you to call back immediately
4. A washing machine with a cracked hose and a flooded downstairs
5. A work requirement to speak to a 1000 people at a formal dinner
6. A 16 hour flight to Mongolia on Mongolian Air
7. A trip to the grocery store with 2 year old triplets (just before nap time)
8. Installing the new HD TV with surround sound and DVD and DVR players
9. Knee replacement surgery
10. An extended six month visit from your in-laws
Likely none of us would actually choose one of the above unless we were compelled to by someone in authority. It is human nature to repel against anything that causes us pain. And yet, pain is the God given physical alarm system that alerts us to a danger. When we have an ache or pain, we focus on the possible cause. We are able to identify an area of need and seek medical attention. Without the pain, physical issues would go unattended.
No matter what the potential gain, we all want to avoid stress, confrontation, relational strains and any other kind of pain. And if you are anything like me, you actually pray that the Lord would spare you all of the above.
Since I know that about me, I was a bit intrigued the other day when I was studying the well known passages about Peter walking on water. In Matthew’s account, the writer notes that “…immediately Jesus compelled the disciples into the boat and (to) go on ahead of him to the other side.” That verb is translated “made,” “constrained,” or “forced.” It was God’s idea that they get in that boat in the middle of the night and strain at the oars for hours. God knew that a ferocious storm was going to sweep across the Sea of Galilee.
He knew that the boat itself would be “distressed” in the storm. He knew the disciples would be terrified. As you read the account, you can see that He ultimately met them in their distress, but don’t miss a very important point. Jesus knew that they were in for the stress, the strain, and the fear. And He still COMPELLED them to go!
There are several lessons to be learned here and some very important theological issues. But I just want to focus on the fact that sometimes God in His sovereignty causes us to endure through difficulties. It seems that for many of us, those stressful situations are the very ingredients that cause us to trust more fully, rely more deeply and love more sincerely.
We would not choose those situations that cause us pain, but it is my conviction that God chooses them for us. In His loving omniscience He knows just what we need. He looks ahead and selects a personal journey that will enrich our spiritual walk and strengthen our relationship with Him. So take heart this week if you sense God is compelling you to endure a storm. I promise that He is with you…so go ahead and get out of the boat!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel