Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Testing to Failure for Building Strong

Can we endure? Can we persevere? These and other questions run through the minds and hearts of many folks when they experience difficult times. The Bible teaches us in Romans 5:3-4 that “we can rejoice… when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” This passage can be explained another way. In civil engineering, before computer-aided design programs, scale models of structures were built and tested until they failed. For example, bridge engineers would build a model, send it through a battery of tests until it failed, and then redesign to be stronger based on the results of the tests. Think of God as your engineer, the One who designed you, tests you, and then builds you stronger to endure life’s difficulties. Just as a bridge engineer tests until failure occurs, so our Lord does with us. As the passage in Romans explains, we can choose to rejoice when we experience failure, knowing that God is at work. It’s a continuous process that definitely causes some pain and sorrow, but take heart because God is faithful to see us through those trials. When we begin to see the Master at work through our failures, we can begin to see how hope is a wonderful result of us trusting Him to see us through. Can we endure? Can we persevere? Yes!

The Cutting Away

Several weeks ago, an over zealous lawn care worker used a weed eater on my wife’s prized rose bush, much to her chagrin. She called me at work rather upset by the whole incident, seeking advice about what to do next. Asking for wisdom, the passage from John 15:1-2 came to mind:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He lifts up; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Providing comfort to her while providing a different perspective on what happened, I shared with her how it seemed that God had allowed this to happen in order to prune the rose bush. Often times, we are stunned by sudden events that do not make sense at first. We experience hurt or disappointment or loss, and when we turn to God for answers, He is faithful to provide them. We trust and obey, as the old hymn implores. The rose bush was almost destroyed, save a few skinny branches. We watered it and watched as it was transformed into a bud-producing wonder over the next few weeks. At the writing of this, nine buds are on it at once! Three was the most to blossom in the past, before the “pruning” by the weed eater. Trusting God to prune us through great trials brings the blossoms of His majesty and glory in your life, beauty that cannot be produced any other way.