The title of this entry may lead you to believe that I am about to criticize some Bible thumping preacher for hypocrisy. I would understand your reasoning, but you would be wrong. Actually, this is a positive word and not about some obscure TV evangelist. It's about me.
Sunday I spoke to the congregation about facing trials with joy. Tuesday I faced a huge trial of my own. It was immediately apparent that God was testing me to see if I believed what I preach enough to practice what I teach.
James 1:2 says to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials." I shared with my folks that this sounds impossible until you realize what it actually says. To "count" or "consider" depending on your translation, means to look ahead or think forward beyond the trial to the purpose for the test. Jesus is our example in Hebrews 12:2 when the author says "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the the throne of God."
Did Jesus look at the cross with joy. No, it caused Him to sweat drops of blood. But the joy came from looking ahead of the trial to the blessing that awaited on the other side. The reality is that most blessings only come after the testing of our faith.
So, back to Tuesday. Many of you may know that I have been attempting to start a business to employ my sons and leave to them when the Lord calls me home. After searching for the right spot we came upon what we thought was an ideal location. I signed a letter of intent and began to invest thousands of dollars on furniture, advertising and renovations. On Tuesday we were to open. It was going to be an exciting beginning to a new adventure for my family. The landlord showed up to what I believed would be for the purpose of signing the lease. Instead, he was there to inform me there would be no lease. Suddenly, I was facing a trial.
Sunday I had encouraged people in the hallway that I knew what I had taught in the message would be true in their life, "If you look ahead of the trial to the blessing God will provide joy." It was all academic to me. I believe the Word of God to be true, but fortunately this truth didn't apply to my life. Up until Tuesday it didn't. Tuesday it did.
How was I going to respond? In the flesh, as I had instructed people not to do? I must admit it was tempting to get angry. I had potentially spent thousands of dollars that I may not be able to recoup. My oldest son, who was to manage the business, was once again out of a job.
Then it happened. God reminded me of the words He had impressed upon me to share with the congregation on Sunday. Was I going to be a victim or a victor? It all depended on how I viewed the trial. I was overwhelmed with peace that I had not known. God was in control of the situation. He did not want us at that location. It was all ok. It was more than ok, it was good. (Romans 8:28) He has something greater planned for our business.
We will proceed. Obstacles are not closed doors unless we allow them to be. Every trial is for our edification. God is sovereign all the time, not just when things happen the way we hoped they would. It's not over. I'm sure there are more trials coming my way. There are more victories too and they are going to be even sweeter than before. Yes, sometimes preachers have to practice what they preach.