I can recall the introduction from the Instructor for the 5-day Auditor’s training. “This will be a brutal and relentless five days, but once you learn the guidelines and the software, the task you face for the next 22 weeks will be easy. You are nurses, and will rely on your knowledge of clinical practice to determine if the medical records meet the criteria.” The first two days were so demanding that when we received our 60-minute lunch break, the entire class of 30 escaped for precious moments of solitude. We made a mad dash to our vehicles just to be alone.
Although day one was brutal, all of us returned for day two. We were allowed a couple of extra breaks to regroup from the intensity and overload of learning the software program. But an issue arose on the second day. Many of the nurses began complaining. It was a significant distraction. Still, our Instructor continued her strategic plan without addressing the complaints. After class ended, the complainers huddled together to discuss their grievances.
Our Instructor was energetic but patient with a laid-back personality. On day three, at 8:01 a.m., she announced that auditing is not a job that is appropriate for everyone. We were informed of a 10-minute break [in which she would return to her office] to give us time to rethink our decision to continue training as MR Auditors. If we stayed, then we would be required to comply with a zero-tolerance policy that prevented any further complaints as of that morning. With boundaries set, the negativity evaporated, and 100% of the trainees passed the course.
Most believers would agree that our spiritual journey challenges us beyond our human capabilities. God created us to love and worship Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. He also made us dependent on the Trinity, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for the strength and resolution of our fiery trials. God is aware of our fragile hearts and weakened strength. Still, God has established spiritual requisites and boundaries. He is also aware of our secret desires and the unholy character traits that our trials will erase. Yes, the struggle is real, but not one of us can escape.
Jesus forewarned us about the trials, sorrows, and tribulations we would encounter from serving Him. Christian means Christ-like. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Jesus reiterates the dependency, which is required from us, “that in Me you may have peace.”
I understand the purpose of suffering, for the Glory of God, to produce faith, trust, and obedience, and to get rid of my character defects. Truthfully, I desire that my trials would not last as long as they do and the hardships would come around less often. But the life of a disciple is not one of multiple choice. It is a faithful life of humility and obedience. God decides because He is God. I can recall hearing a sermon based on the steadfastness of God, “When we are in our stormy trials, we can cry, have a sad countenance, and pray to be delivered, but God will not change His plans. He knows the end from the beginning, and God desires that none of us perish.”
Here’s the reality check, when I read Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. My character is definitely missing some of the “Fruit of the Spirit.”
Sadly, some of us assume that because Jesus accepted us, “Just As I Am,” that we have the option to keep our unholy character traits. In Revelation chapter 3, verses 14-21, God speaks to the Laodicean Church–the Lukewarm Church. They are the ones who place their priorities over God. But they are also the believers who have the most challenging struggles. Not because their trials and hardships are more severe. They have faith in themselves and their ability to resolve life’s challenges. These are the believers who only include God in their lives by word of mouth. Their time spent in prayer is limited. Bible studies are not a priority because they are content with making plans for a comfortable life. Determined to maintain complete control over their lives, they appear strong, yet, they easily become discouraged when facing hardships and quickly ask, “Where is God?”
God has no filter with His correction of wrongdoing. Even Peter, the stubborn, impulsive disciple who lacked self-control, was reprimanded by Jesus, “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23. Even so, in Luke 22:32, Jesus showed compassion and concern for His wayward disciple: “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
The books of 1st and 2nd Peter demonstrate Peter’s surrender and complete spiritual transformation. 1st Peter, chapter 4, reminds us that God has chosen us to be His disciples. So we must suffer because Christ suffered. He was perfect and without sin. Yet, Jesus suffered for our redemption and to glorify God, His Father.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
God does not continually rain on us. In fact, our Heavenly Father makes sure that we know He loves us and will never leave us alone:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you, says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3
It is because of God’s grace and mercies that we are not consumed. There is always an end to the suffering of each trial that we face.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
God puts us through the fiery trials to strengthen us, remove the impurities of sin, and increase our faith and trust in Him. Revelation chapters 21, and 22 remind us that we are preparing to live in a sinless and perfect New Heaven and New Earth. We must strive daily to run the race. We choose to live a faith-based life. God is Holy!
The Human effort of faith, trust, obedience, and perseverance, along with God’s Divine intervention, result in a life of Righteousness by Faith, which is pleasing to God. Jesus Christ is coming soon to give the faithful their reward of eternal life. So with a renewed commitment, let our prayer reflect King David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23-24.
Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life [Psalm 139:23-24]. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry