An Introspective Life
When faced with certain difficulties, such as illness, academic failure, business failure, lay-off etc., some Christians will impugn and challenge God saying, “Why make me go through these hardships?”, or they will quickly associate their circumstances with Job’s, and blame the tribulations on Satan’s attacks. Whether doubting God or blaming Satan, it could be the wrong conclusion.
“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’” (Haggai 1:5) When Christians face difficulties, God hopes that we will first examine ourselves to determine if our character and behavior conform to His wishes. Sometimes, God wants Christians to suffer certain distress so that He could speak to us through these hardships, just as He spoke to mankind through all creation (Psalm 19:1). Why aren’t Christians able to discern God speaking to them through the problems they face? There are at least 3 reasons:
1. Overlooking the admonitions of the Bible – The Bible is the Word of God. God uses it to speak to those who belong to Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Those who read more of the Bible will hear more of God’s words; those who read less of the Bible will hear less of God’s words. If Christians form the habit of dutifully studying and reading the bible in everyday life, they will be more sensitive to the admonitions of God. Those Christians who don’t read the Bible won’t know God, and don’t understand their purpose in life on this earth.
2. Overlooking the admonitions of the Holy Spirit – After Christians become believers, God speaks to them through the indwelling Holy Spirit. If they continue to follow the traditions of the world in their behavior and live according to the pleasures of the flesh, they will be Christians that belong to the flesh. Initially, the Holy Spirit will still admonish and warn them in their hearts. But if they continue to suppress the guidance and urging of the Holy Spirit, their hearts will become harder and harder, and they will not know the will of the Lord, eventually falling back into sin once again.
3. Overlooking the admonitions of God’s servants – God speaks to man through His servants, just as the prophets in the Old Testament were the spokesmen of the Lord. Through messages from the church’s pulpit, God speaks to those listening to the sermons. If Christians adopt an attitude of humility and patience to listen, God will say more to them (Matthew 13:9-12). If they use an attitude of denial, confrontation, aloofness or nonchalance to listen to the Way, God’s words to them will become less.
Our Lord is a God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, yet does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7). Our Father even forewarns those rebellious children, just as He forewarned Cain. In everyday life, if a Christian does not habitually study and read the Bible, submit to the Holy Spirit and carefully observe the admonitions of God’s servants, he will not understand the true significance when difficulties arise, and just blindly speculate about God’s works. Our attitude towards the words of the Lord determine our experiences, and even the final outcome. It is not that God has not forewarned us; it is that we have long neglected knowing Him through the Bible. It is not a question of whether we have faith; it is a question of whether we submit to the Holy Spirit. And it is not a question of how long we have been with the church; it is whether we solemnly accept the admonition of the Lord’s servants. If our spirituality has become sloppy for a while, God will sometimes alert us through hardships and discipline us through tribulations. These difficulties are like wake-up calls. God’s purpose is to cause us to wise up, repent, turn back, revitalize, be children of light, and become lampstands that glorify and testify for the Lord on earth.
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord.” (Haggai 1:7-8)
By: Daniel To