In a previous post, Bonnie told you about the kids that we hosted this Summer, Anya and Tymofiy. It might be easy to believe from Bonnie's good-natured tone that while hosting had its ups and downs, it was mostly a positive ride down the Good-Deeds Trail.
It was stinkin' difficult. It was trying, and testing, and stretching, and exhausting. It sometimes brought out the worst in our own kids. We weren't exactly saints, either.
It was perfect.
If it had been easy, we could have done it on our own. And we would have missed the point.
When we are "rugged individuals", "strong" enough to go through life's trials without God, not only do we miss the point of the trial, but it doesn't make us more noble or worthy. In fact, it detracts from our character.
Paul says in Romans 5 "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Now, I don't know if we built all the character God intended for us in this tribulation, but I do know He produced in us "hope." As we cried out to God during various trials, He answered. His character became more clear. That was the beauty of it all.
And that's the beauty of the Gospel. When we realize Who God is, our Creator, holy, perfect, unchanging, living in unapproachable light…when His character becomes clear, we realize how impossible it is for us in our natural, sinful state to be joined with Him. Then we see His love - holy, perfect, unchanging, sacrificial, redeeming, rescuing…and His character again draws us to Him.
We can't make ourselves more noble, more deserving of the grace of God. If we could, it would no longer be grace. It would be wages - something earned. And we know the only thing our trying to live apart from God has earned us: "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23).
But the free gift isn't like the offense. It isn't earned. We are saved at our weakest - while we are still sinners. Being saved by grace, let's not think that we now need to earn it by perfecting ourselves ("Having begun the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?" Gal 3:3). Let's let God do the perfecting in us.
Don't try to be "strong enough" to make it through life's trials. It is when we are weak in the flesh that we see God more clearly.