Character or Comfort?
Other than a direct download from heaven by The Holy Spirit through dreams, visions, and/or angelic visitations, there are only two ways that people come to get knowledge. One way is to learn from books, videos, or going to school etc. The other way is to learn by life experience. Both ways are excellent teachers, however, to truly get truth in our hearts, more often than not, we must have more than just “head knowledge”, we need “heart knowledge”, and that usually comes from the school of experience. So many people go through life asking the question “why?”. Why did I have to go through such a hard time. Why did I lose so much money. Why did I get sick? Why, why, why? Experience is a wonderful teacher because it gets knowledge it in our hearts. This is why God allows us to go through things. It gets truth in us. Please understand that God is a good God and can never change. He is the source of life and not sickness, pain, or suffering. But there are times when He allows us to go into a place of trials in our lives for the sole purpose of allowing His children to grow in truth and character. The Bible actually calls The Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth”. Think about that for a minute. “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead us and guide us into ALL truth (reality or experiences)”. The reason why God is more concerned about our character than our comfort is because He wants us to grow in the knowledge of Him. However, sometimes the only way He can do that is by allowing us to experience certain situations that unfortunately, can sometimes be a little tough. If we remember in the Gospel of Luke chapter 4, Jesus was “led” into the wilderness where He was tempted. Please note that it was not God who was doing the tempting but the devil. Now, don’t you think that if Jesus was led into a barren place to be tempted by the devil that, there’s a possibility that you will also be led places by the Spirit of God where you will be allowed to be “tempted” as well? Come on now, let’s get real. How many times have you begged God, “God, would You please take this temptation from me?” You see, the wilderness isn’t just a wilderness; it’s also a place of truth, and it’s The Holy Spirit’s job to lead us and to guide us into ALL truth. I bet you thought that Bible verse was just talking about Scripture huh? Sometimes, in those tough situations, God is just teaching us to do exactly what Jesus did. He’s teaching us to stand on His Word and declare His Word. James 4:6 says, “therefore SUBMIT yourself to God, RESIST the devil, and HE WILL FLEE.” This is how increase happens in our lives. This is how that seed that God has planted inside each of us is allowed to grow. In the book of Psalms chapter 23, the psalmist says, “For though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for YOU ARE WITH ME”. Again it was The Spirit that was leading David THROUGH this horrible place (You are with me). Most of us look at that verse and say, “well, we get ourselves into a pickle and then God is always there to pull us through”. This is true, but it was The Lord in this verse and in this context who was His Shepherd. It was the Shepherd who had the rod and the staff that was leading David into this valley. David, who compares himself to a sheep, in this case, was just a follower. Watch the next part though, “You lead me beside still waters, You restore my soul”. LIfe is always darkest right before the dawn. There are always going to be ups and downs. Ecc. 3:1 “For everything there is a season...”. We have to know that in life there are ebbs and flows and when things are on a downward swing, the pendulum of life will eventually swing back in our favor. Yes... it will. It was the same God who lead David through that valley of darkness who also lead him beside still and peaceful waters. During those times, his soul (mind, will, emotions) was restored. No matter what season we’re in, God is faithful. However, we must know that it’s only in the times of the valleys that we can experience certain truths that we cannot learn anywhere else. I had a pastor tell me one time, “Never forget in the light what you learned in the night”. You see, what you learn in the night are pearls of wisdom that are far greater than anything you can imagine. Those truths are wrought with pain and tears but they are also invaluable experiences that forge your character and your heart. Therefore, we must truly “count it all joy when we fall into various trials” and really really know that the testing of our faith that we are in right now will produce an everlasting patience in us if we’ll let it have it’s perfect work. Eventually, our character will be transformed and the end result will be Christlikeness. Pretty cool huh? Remember: God is always more concerned about your character than your comfort.