Craving Contentment More Than Ease

Does that sound like a strange thing, or what — craving contentment more than ease. That is the opposite of where I found myself today. I wanted as much ease as I could manage. Isn’t it funny that that is our first response to hardships, when God would give us so much grace and insight through our trials — the same ones we’ve prayed for, ones we couldn’t get anywhere else?

On Sunday, God got my attention with a message by Jace Hudson, talking about trials. As I look back, it was kind of like God was sneaking up on me and giving me a gift, a gift I wasn’t as aware as He was that I needed, but one He was faithful to present, and impress on my heart anyway.

I must admit, that I was sitting there, not expecting much from God, feeling a little spiritually numb, I guess. Then, God just began addressing me exactly where I was. Two statements that stand out to me are from Jace’s comments on the morning’s text, 1 Peter 1.

1) God uses trials to help us, not hurt us, a fact I have heard, but according to a rule I had not attributed to Him: God only allows those trials (in our lives) that are necessary. (We) have been saved from so many trials that just weren’t necessary.

2) He will do the protecting! And how kind of God for us that all He has us do is have faith.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble believing those things. Like number one, God may only allow those trials that are necessary (v. 6), but when I feel pain my flesh is powerless to agree with that. I do not want to believe that life is “both a mixing of sorrow and joy,” in my self-centered interest I would rather blame God and insist He remove it all immediately.

Yet, how comforting his second point is then, God is doing the protecting. Though I may not like how He does it, I do not need to assume that burden. There is a heavenly lightness in living by faith; no, not in doing nothing, but in attributing all strength and hope to God, in walking not according to what I can secure for myself, but what I will let Him reward me with, undeservedly, in His timing.

Help me, Lord, to forsake arrogance and cling to You for life. Let me not consider what I “ought to deserve” when I should feel cast down by trials and temptations, but what You did not deserve and chose to bear in my place anyway. I want that to be my light, the shining beacon that guides my way in every storm of life. As You Wish.

I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,

The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.

1 Peter 1

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