As promised, I do indeed have plenty to say about the past week, and I think it’s safe, now that it’s officially over. My focus for the week was on longsuffering, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And it was a week filled with plenty of opportunities for me to practice patience.
One of the things people are told is that once you have Jesus in your life, once you become a Christian, your life is better. And it’s true. Your life is better because, by accepting that you are a sinner and Jesus can cleanse you of your sin, now you can be assured of spending eternity in heaven. The issue becomes when better is mistaken for easier. Jesus never promised our lives would be easy as Christians. If anything, He claimed the opposite. John 16:33 states, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” In this world, we shall have tribulation. But, for a Christian, that’s a good thing. I’m sure you’re thinking, how can I say that going through tribulations is a good thing for a Christian? Well, I’m not the one who says it. Romans 5:3-5 says “We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
Glory in tribulations? How is that possible? How can we take those trials that are thrown at us and glory in them? Well, that verse tells us how we can. Those trials help us practice patience, i.e. longsuffering, which is evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in a Christian. That patience leads to experience, which leads to hope, which leads to the love of God in our hearts. That’s a wonderful end result, but it’s one that begins with tribulation. The last thing I want to do when I face trials is glory in it. Instead, it’s usually the opposite: sadness, anger, self-pity, frustration. Those are the usual responses to tribulation. And these are some of the tribulations I was facing this week:
- I learned that I may not be able to get a loan for my last semester of school. All I need is two more classes, and I may not be able to finish. I’ve been going through getting this degree for over two years, and now, with the finish line so close, I may not be able to finish the race.
- I had to make up an extra vacation day that I took on my trip to New York that I did not have. That meant an extra two hours every day from Tuesday to Friday, which threw off my class work as well as some freelance work.
- It seemed like every slow driver in Florida managed to make their way right in front of my car, no matter where I was going. Every trip seemed to take longer than usual.
- There were a couple of major issues at work that caused problems for our department. I’d go into detail about the issues, but it’s so boring I’d be testing my readers’ longsuffering by offering the explanation. Suffice it to say that my job this week was more stress-filled than at any other point before, and that includes when we were facing major layoffs back in 2008.
Finally, this week culminated in a grand-scale test of patience, which tied in with my out-of-the-box experience for the week. For my out-of-the-box activity, I decided to have a yard sale. I’m a collector (hoarder), and I find it very difficult to get rid of things. Putting my stuff for sale is very much out of my comfort zone. So, I decided that Saturday morning I would have the yard sale. Late Friday night, I made signs and placed them in what I surmised to be strategic street corners. I woke up early Saturday morning, ready for the fun. I spent about twenty minutes taking everything out and was ready for the stream of buyers by 8. Then I waited….and waited…and…waited…
By 9:30, not a single person had stopped, and I decided that I would put an end to my futile endeavor at 10. But before 10 could roll around, I dropped my iPad onto the concrete, and it landed screen-down. I hesitantly picked it up, expecting the worst but hoping for the best. Expectations won out. A spider-web of cracks radiated from one end of the screen to the other. In one fell swoop, I managed to be the first person in history who threw a yard sale and lost money. When I went to pick up my signs, I found that two had mysteriously disappeared, and one had fallen down flat. When I returned home from picking up the signs, I set up an appointment at the Apple store, which wouldn’t be until later that day. When they saw the iPad, they said the only thing they could do was replace the unit, and because it was an accident, it would not be free. On the plus side, it was a lot cheaper than if I had to buy a brand new replacement. And by having to go to the Apple store, I also was not able to join my friend at a Tim Hawkins comedy show in Orlando, so my entire day ended up in no way, shape, or form even remotely to how I had hoped to spend it.
This is not even a comprehensive list. There were other, smaller, issues that seem larger when they’re occurring, but fall completely off the radar once they’re gone. I will admit that, at no time this week, did I find glory in any of those trials. But, maybe the glory in tribulation comes later, as one can look back and realize how much growth came about because of those tribulations. In which case, this is a week I’ll be looking back at fondly, amazed at how much opportunity for glory was given to me. And, in hindsight, I can see that each of my tribulations this past week were minor in the grand scheme of things. I’m two classes away. God has brought me this far, and if I’m meant to finish and get my degree, He will make a way. The extra hours I worked were a consequence of a week of fun, which was worth it. And now the time has been made up. All the issues at work blew over within a day or so, which meant there really was nothing to worry about. A slow driver in front of me could very well be God’s way of slowing me down so that I don’t end up in the middle of a wreck. And the iPad…well, as handy as it is to have, in the long run it doesn’t really matter. Did I hate to spend money I really couldn’t afford to spend? Absolutely. But, again, it’s only money, and that also doesn’t matter in the long run.
Now, I know some of you are thinking, “That’s all he had to deal with? If he knew the things I deal with, he would count himself lucky with the week he had.” And you would be right. The things I dealt with were minor in comparison to some of your issues. But the principle is still the same. Those things are in your life, so you can glory in them. Paul had a “thorn in his flesh” (2 Cor 12:7), which he asked God to remove. Paul then continued, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There’s the concept of glory in tribulation again. I should glory in tribulation and glory in infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon me and the love of God shows in my heart. Suddenly…last week doesn’t seem so bad after all.