Every difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . detail or happening in life is NOT necessarily the result of nor punishment for error or failure or sin.
I've been wrestling with this dynamic in the midst of the extended fiery trials I've been experiencing . . . and with the realization that there is no end in sight.
It would be right to question my statement and ask for an explanation from Scripture.
My first and greatest piece of evidence would be the life and death of God's only begotten Son. Christ's life was anything but rosy from His birth in rude quarters to His death on a public cross. The written record contains scores of difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . details and happenings throughout the Savior's life.
Dare we say these are the marks of error or failure or sin?
Borrowing from the words of Paul, may it never be!
"God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
From the cross. "It is finished." John 19:30
Clearly, not only was Christ's earthly life free from errors or failures or sin. The work He came from heaven to earth to accomplish was not hampered by difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . details and happenings in His life.
But Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, the One and Only. Surely it's reasonable to make an exception in His case. One might easily think so.
However, Scripture reports about many who were not sinless yet whose lives were difficult, harsh, stretching, unwanted, confusing . . . through no specific error or failure or sin of their own.
It's been an awakening of sorts to come to grips with this perspective. Evidently there's a lot more going on around here than simple cause and effect, crime and punishment.
Could it be that God is managing our lives with much more diversity than a punishing rod?
Could discipleship be a deeper dynamic than measuring up to a bar?
It seems the image of God as The Potter is much more appropriate.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Could it be that times of struggles and trials are merely a gauntlet run orchestrated by God for our good?
Could our Abba Father be standing at the end beckoning us onward using every blow to remind us of our unity with Christ, provide us with blessings in this life, and prepare us for eternity with Him?
You know, it's a lot easier to write this stuff than it is to put it into practice in my life. I feel as if I'm constantly returning to first grade in my spiritual journey. Never mind. It's all part of the Father's perfect plan for Sandra Allen Lovelace.
I don't know about you, but I intend to scramble, crawl, drag myself across that finish line that I and the world might see my Savior in all His glory.
"Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4:12-13