While at the Revive ’13: Women Helping Women Conference, I sat under rich teaching of God’s truth. I was blessed to hear Paul David Tripp speak for the first time. I had many take-aways from his messages and wanted to share some of these with you.
Friday night, his message opened with asking how we respond to trials and hardship. We think to ourselves: “Do you care about my marriage?” “Do you care about the fact that I lost my job and am in financial need?” “Do you care about the fact I am dealing with the weakness of old age?”
When we face trials or sufferings we should ask ourselves two questions:
- What in the world is God doing?
- How in the world should I respond?
He brought us to Mark chapter 6, starting in verses 45-52:
“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. 46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land.48 Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. 49 But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” 51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”
How did the disciples get themselves into this mess?? Jesus told them to get in the boat and row. He put them in this mess. They are right where he wants them to be.
Why would he want them to be in this difficulty??
Paul Tripp reminded us there are many times that “God will take you where you hadn’t intended to go to produce in you what you could not do on your own.” The Bible calls that GRACE!!! We need the transforming grace of refinement (which is the theology of uncomfortable grace). This is such a great picture to meditate on when in a time of trial. When everything is going well in life and things are easy, we have the tendency to rely on ourselves and to completely forget of our need for God. We lose sight of God’s will/plan for us. When God takes us to those places where we don’t understand what He is doing, these are the times when we see our desperate need to rely on HIM! We can fall into the mindset of only asking God to remove the trial (to give us relief), but we need to be praying for Him to also do a great work in us, and show us how we might grow more into His likeness through the trial.
Paul Tripp points out, “This is the LORD! His intention of this moment is being revealed when he walks on water. If all he wanted to do was remove the difficulty, he would have just calmed the storm. He wouldn’t have had to take the walk. He is not after the difficulty; he is after the people in the middle of the difficulty.” What a loving God we serve that he would be after us in the midst of difficulty. He is our Father, and wants us to cry out to Him.
Another thing that I love that Paul Tripp hit on had to do with the disciples and their reactions to witnessing different miracles. When I think of the disciples, I think I forget how much like me they really are. I guess I put this label on them that they are such great followers, as they LITERALLY followed Christ. The disciples had recently watched Him raise a girl from the dead and feed a multitude with a little boy’s lunch. They break bread with Christ and hear of everything that he must go through dying on the cross, and yet shortly after, they are fighting with each other about who will be greatest in the kingdom. Wow!!! I think to myself, “Really guys?? Christ just laid out his plan of redemption and this is what you think about?” And then I remember how faithful God is in my life and how many times I question Him and His motives.
We look at this passage and see that Jesus WALKED ON WATER. This was such a magnificent display of God’s glory. How do the disciples respond? They are frightened! They are also “astonished” or “amazed” by what Jesus just did. This just means that they are in awe. We can be amazed without having faith. Even when they are in the presence of Christ and have seen Him walk on water, their hearts are hardened.
So, does God care? Paul Tripp reminds us “Sometimes you NEED the storm in order to see the glory!” The care IS the storm. He is zealous that we would see and understand and have hearts of faith! It’s impossible for you to ever be in the storms of life on your own because your life has been invaded by the grace of the one who is the I AM.
Oh I pray that when I am thrown into the next trial that I would have right thinking, pray rightly, and not question God if He cares about what I am going through.