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Faith from Hindsight September 2, 2010

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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John 16:17-33
How far into the future can you see? Not at all. We cannot see past the veil. Our eyes are not equipped to see the future. We can make some educated guesses. We can make a lot of assumptions. But, we cannot know what the future holds. As people, we can only see ‘now.’ We can see the immediate present, but only from our perspective. We cannot see another’s view, even if they explain it in vivid, graphic detail. We always apply to our own understanding. I like to call this your ‘worldview.’ Other than the present we can also see the past. They say that hindsight is 20/20. We make decisions during ‘now’ and deal with the consequences, the outcome (whether good or bad) later. We can look back. We can see now. But, we cannot see into the future.
A mentor explained to me once that the past is history; the future is mystery; we live now. On a card or bumper sticker you might read, “We only have now, that’s why it’s called ‘the present.’ It’s a gift.” There is some truth to that cheesy little cliché, but I wonder how many of us see things like that when we are in the midst of a trial. Trials bring stress and anxiety. Friends attempt to cheer us by quoting scripture and telling you they will pray for you. In the midst of trials we often read the book of “Job.” But, even that does not help. It is so long. And, who actually prays like that in the midst of adversity?
Trials are not just pointless endeavors that God places upon us for no reason. It is in the midst of trials that we grow closer to God. We cry out to Him. We spend more time in prayer. The good evangelist would say, “If God brought you to it, God will see you through it.” I have had scripture quoted to me more than once in the midst of a fiery trial. It is always well intentioned, but sometimes you just don’t want to hear it. Other times, like Job, your friends bring accusations and condemnation as if you were to blame for your own trial. Isn’t it enough that I am in the midst of a trial? Do my friends have to add to it?
The thing about trials and tribulations is that they are for a purpose. They are like speed bumps in a parking lot. They make us slow down and pay attention. Getting through a difficult patch in your life requires faith. It is faith that claims you will make it through. It is faith that says it is for a reason. It is faith that you will be better on the other side as a result. Trials lead to faith. Each trial we face leads us to a deeper understanding of God. We grow closer to God. We identify with Christ in our sufferings. Each trial builds our faith to prepare us for the next one that will come. Trials also increase your faith. In the midst of a trial, simply recognizing it as a trial is an exercise of faith. Crying out to God requires faith. Faith is like a muscle that must be strengthened. The more it is used, the more it grows. Use it. Try it out. In the midst of difficulty agree with God. Ask Him to help you learn whatever it is that you need to learn from this trial quickly. Exercise your faith.
When you come through to the other side after a trial; when you are out of the valley and back on the mountain where you belong; look back. You can see clearly looking backward through time. The “Footprints” poster comes to mind. When the weary traveler looked back over his life, in the difficult times there was only one set of footprints. Those were not the times he was alone, rather that’s when Jesus carried him. I recommend keeping a journal of your journey. I do not think it is by accident that these two words are so similar. Keep a journal. Pour your heart out on it as though you are pouring it out to God. Then, when you have made it through, go back and read it. A journal does no good if you don’t go back once in a while to read how it was.
Here in this passage, Jesus is trying to explain to His disciples that they would face trials and grief of all kinds. He could only tell them of such things because their eyes like ours are not equipped to see it in future form. It is only after we have come through it that we can look back and see that though the journey was tough and the struggles were difficult, Jesus was there the whole time, walking with us every step of the way. There is no trial that you will face that is not common to all men. Nor is there a trial that you will endure of which Jesus has not overcome it. And that is how you will overcome, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” God has ordained it. You have only to get through it. Trials exist while we are in the world, “But take heart. Jesus has overcome the world.”
See also Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:28
Look back and see His deliverance.

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