“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2: 10
In Chapter 6 of Healing Your Church Hurt, author and former pastor Stephen Mansfield states that Paul’s words ignite our passion to do the good works God has planned for us, making us “eager to storm the future in faith.” However, it is exceedingly difficult to see the hardship of our ministry downsizing or vocation loss in the same light.
Yet Stephen asserts that seeing God’s hand in all aspects of our lives should be wonderfully liberating, as we can move forward with the knowledge that we are living out God’s plan for our lives. This attitude is beautifully expressed in J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase of James 1: 2-4:
“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character.”
Stephen adds that we want to feel otherwise, seeing our hardships as strange invaders from another world. But they aren’t. Our hardships are redemptive in the hand of God.
Today’s question: At what point in your desert, transformational journey did you begin to experience God’s blessings through your hardships? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Cleansing and redemption”