Every past experience is preparation for some future opportunity. God doesn’t just redeem our souls. He also redeems our experiences. And not just the good ones. He redeems the bad ones too—especially the bad ones. How? By cultivating character, developing gifts, and teaching lessons that cannot be learned any other way.
— Mark Batterson

That is one of my favorite quotes.  The reality of what that says allows me to parent, stay married, lead, and frankly, get out of bed some mornings.  There is a hope and promise that I find in Batterson’s words that I don’t find as fully even in the Bible verses like this one from James that I have quoted many times:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Along similar lines, Paul talks about:

  • Not being anxious despite our trials
  • Being patient in tribulation
  • How our faith is tested and strengthened

I deeply believe all of that.  Get too deep into a conversation with me and you will hear about “experiential currency,” the redeemed byproduct of our trails.  I’ll talk about one of the great paradoxes of the gospel being that we are more qualified due to our tribulations, as redeemed, than we ever are without it.  I’ll tell you that one of my favorite authors says he can’t really trust someone who hasn’t suffered.  They are likely being dishonest at worst or honest with very little to offer you at best.

Believing great truths and having the conviction to offer them to others is quite different than living in them yourself.  To tell you the truth, I can’t stand trials.  I hate persevering.  I am irritated with anything or anyone that gets in my way.  I would pretty much prefer that you not remind me of the words of James or Paul when I am stifled.

The truth is that in being thwarted, laid up, or even slowed down a bit, the Father seems more present, available, and real.  The trials in the unforced rhythms of our lives is where we seem to meet Him more deeply.

The condition I most need to address this morning is not the violently inflamed heal soaking in Epson salts as I type, but the condition of my heart.  There is an essential rhythm of walking with God that can be as regular as the breathing in and breathing out of air in my lungs.  The relational offer of our God means that I shouldn’t find Him any different or deeper in my trials.  That I wouldn’t find him in the disruption, but in the every day.

This morning, the bone fragments causing the inflammation of my achilles is an unintended consequence of the surgery that corrected my 90 degree tilted foot as an 8 yr-old boy.  It is a reminder of the sports that I couldn’t play during those years of recovery and the marriage of my parents that ended then.  (There are many powerfully redemptive stories out of all of that.)

More than anything, however, it is reminding me that I don’t walk closely enough with the Father day to day and that it is taking this disruption to find him more deeply and rest in Him more fully.  My prayer for you and I is that we don’t find Him more in the disruption, but find Him the same… ever present, ever able, and ever invested, in every detail of our lives.

  • Are you currently suffering?
  • Does the Father feel closer, more present than usual?
  • What are the consequences to you and those you love and lead, of not walking in more consistent rhythm with the Father?