– Rick Warren
Softening our Hearts
In the Parable of the Sower, only the seed that found good soil was able to germinate and grow. How so? It was because the Word of God (which is the seed) has to land in soil softened by the plow of trouble so that the seed can enter into the soil and the soil is softened enough for it to take root. God will also use problems to soften lost people’s hearts and humble them in order that they might receive the Word of God and be brought to repentance and faith in Christ.
Focusing on Him
When the Apostle Peter was actually walking on water, he was taking part in a miracle, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. Peter started to look at the water and the wind and you can’t look at two things at the same time. We either must focus on Christ during our problems or we will focus on the problem and begin to sink.
Dependent upon God
When Peter began to sink in the water, he cried out to Jesus because “he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” (Matt 14:30-31)? Why did Peter doubt? He was depending on what he saw with his eyes and not depending on Christ who he knew could save him (and did) and is sovereign over the storms in life.
Sharing in Sufferings
We all suffer in life. That’s just the way life is, but suffering is never wasted. The Apostle Paul wrote that “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2nd Cor 1:5). Paul wanted to know Christ so desperately that he was willing to suffer for Him and share in that suffering. Paul wrote that it was in order “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10), so we must “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2nd Tim 2:3) and “do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2nd Tim 1:8).
Telling us Something
I have a Christian brother who is going through so many problems right now that he asked, “Why are these things happening to me? Is God trying to tell me something?” Indeed, He may be. Sometimes God will use trials, tribulations, and trouble to get our attention and it works, doesn’t it, so be sensitive to your problems. God may be using them to try and tell us something.
Problems are not random chance occurrences. Everything that happens to us in life, good or bad, is for God’s purposes (Rom 8:28), even when we don’t know that purpose. We are forced to trust God and not trust our eyes (what we see). This type of faith is developed over time, trials, and tests, so that God can soften our hearts to receive His Word, we can focus on Him, be dependent upon Him, share in the sufferings of Christ, and see what God may be trying to tell us.