Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Getting and Giving, Trust and Peace

They say when you can fall asleep around someone it is proof you really trust them. You can be in a completely vulnerable, helpless state around them and feel safe.

It's the same with God. When you trust Him completely, you can rest in Him, be utterly at peace. When you trust Him with your entire being then no matter what happens in life, nothing can separate you from His peace.

And when trials come and tempests roar, instead of retreating into a small corner or hiding under the bed, we can grow closer to God through hardship. Trials become an opportunity to grow closer to God, to grow in grace through circumstances meant for harm that God uses for good.

This is not to say God causes suffering in order for us to grow nearer to Him. As I've said before, God doesn't cause suffering, but He is a God who suffers with us. God's desire is for peace and wholeness, healing and restoration. He desires everything good, and shuns all things evil. But because the world is broken and imperfect, bad things still happen, and God can use those bad things for His greater good, because His heart is a heart of love and His ways are good and perfect.

"You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you." -Isaiah 26:3

A heart that truly rests in God is at peace, acknowledging His sovereignty to "work all things together for good." A heart and soul that trusts in Jesus responds with grace and peace no matter the circumstance, because a trusting God means knowing that He is bigger than anything and anyone else.

The story of Joseph exemplifies this. Joseph was sold to Egyptian slavers by his own brothers. After many trials (slavery, prison, etc) and remaining faithful to God, he eventually became second-in-command to the Pharaoh himself. There was a huge famine in Egypt and the surrounding lands, but Joseph had overseen the storing up of food in Egypt. People came from around the land to buy food from Egypt, and among these people were Joseph's brothers, the very ones who had sold him into slavery. The brothers didn't recognize Joseph, as he now quite resembled an Egyptian, but Joseph recognized them! In those moments, Joseph had the option to get revenge, sweet sweet revenge, for being sold as a slave by his own brothers. But he didn't. Instead he provided for his family, he responded with grace. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers that what they intended for harm, God used for good and many lives were saved.

Woah. That is quite a response. Joseph responded with such grace. Instead of taking offense, holding on to hurt (and quite justifiable hurt, at that), he recognizes God's sovereignty over the situation. What they had done to him didn't matter because what God could do was so much greater.

What if we approached life like that? How different would our lives be?

My own tendency, so often, is to hold on to hurts, or at least to make sure people know they hurt me, even if I do forgive them. But is that really what forgiveness looks like?

Instead of focusing on how we were wronged and all the bad things that have happened, we should be focusing on God and how He can use bad situations to bring good and bring glory. God is so much bigger than our fears and our tears, and if we truly believed that, we would respond so much differently when hardships and trials come our way.

See, no matter what happens, God is still God, and there is no other. And He is saying to us, "trust Me, and I will give you peace. Trust Me, because I am for you. Trust me, because I love you more than you can imagine."

What if we had a Jesus-perspective on life instead of a me-perspective?

When we are trusting in Jesus, nothing else matters, because instead of seeing the harm someone else did, the bad in a circumstance, we are seeing the good God can bring out of it.

If God is for us, who can be against us? When we live our lives in the knowledge that God loves us, we can trust Him, and our perspective changes from "what can I get?" to "what can I give?"