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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Paper Jam

Have you ever heard that God has an incredible sense of humor? It never fails that when I'm considering some spiritual concept, have some spiritual revelation, or especially if I'm supposed to teach or write something about a spiritual principal—I'm tested on it.

I remember the day I was finishing up my Botany Co-op Manual. With every lesson, I included a short devotion the co-op teacher could read to the kids. I was writing on suffering and how Christians grow through it. I included Bible verses about thanking God for our trials. You know, they produce in us incorruptible good, so therefore, we should thank God for the trial. I didn't write about, but thought about the times in my life when I applied this principal—when I walked the walk, if you will. When my marriage was failing, I thanked God, trusting it was part of His perfect plan. He later restored and blessed my marriage. When I had cancer, I thanked God and trusted that whatever His will was, it was perfect. He later healed me, but I was surrendered to whatever He willed.

Sometimes it’s easier to walk out spiritual principals during the big piercing trials. It's in the little pin-prick trials that we forget. One summer, my daughter didn't get a good part in a play. I counseled her to thank God for not getting the part. Then the very next day, I wrecked my brand spanking new car (which I had waited an enormous number of years to get). As I was driving away from the scene, I remembered my counsel to my daughter. It hit me like a ton of bricks. So I stuttered out a thank you to God for my car wreck. Then something miraculous happened. It was like the power of this material thing over me melted away. It's not that I didn't care. I just no longer cared in a way that was unrighteous and full of self pity. The amazing way that God works in our hearts when we thank Him for our trials is nothing short of a miracle. It's our way of saying, "I trust You. I trust that You have Your hand on every event and circumstance in my life. I trust You with everything."

So there I was, fondly ruminating about this lofty spiritual concept. I even considered posting a blog about it. I clicked print because I really needed to read a hard copy of the Botany Co-op Manual in order to edit it. Clicking print reminded me that I had busted my printer the other day when it fell over. My printer printed about four pages before it jammed. Extremely irritated, I cleared the jam. It printed a few more pages, then jammed again. GRRRRRRRRR. Clear, print, jam, grunt. Clear, print, jam, grunt. Clear, print, jam, grunt. I was...well, not feeling very godly at that moment. I mean, if one of my children happened into the room to ask me to do something for them—let's just say they would have ended up doing a mountain of laundry instead. I was fuming with every jam wondering how much a new printer would cost. Suddenly, it hit me. My whole mindset that day was on thanking God for trials. I almost laughed out loud as I cleared the last piece of jammed paper, thanking God for His sense of humor and my printer problems.

"Thank you God that I'm learning to be patient by thanking You in the midst of trials. Thank you God that no trial is wasted. You use everything in Your efforts to make me like You. I trust You that having a broken printer is more valuable to my faith than having everything work out perfectly in my life. I believe You allowed this because You intend to use it for my good—which will result in inexpressible joy."

Aren’t joy and peace the sources of happiness that we seek? Indeed, they don’t come when all our plans go perfectly. They come in spite of our plans failing, when we trust that God was in it. It’s astonishing how in an instant, the power that printer's issues had over me completely vanished. I believe that giving thanks in all things isn't really for Him; it's for us. We are the beneficiaries. He is our Great Benefactor. Oh, what a God we serve!

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9



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