I wasn’t planning on writing an extra post this week, but I felt like I really needed to share what I learned over the weekend. So, last weekend was hard for me. It was just one of those times when a lot of small, unfortunate things added up to a long and frustrating weekend. We’re talking about a “someone got locked in the bathroom, someone pooped everywhere, and breakfast was ruined by spoiled milk” kind of weekend. And while it was all happening I thought “I’m handling all of this pretty well. Like, I’m keeping my cool, good for me.”
I know that I didn’t suffer any major hardships. I’ve suffered a lot more in the past, and most people have suffered far more than I ever have. This weekend was just discouraging. But it was discouraging enough that I whined, complained, and mumbled under my breath. A lot. It was enough for me to have a pity party and ask God for help with tears in my eyes. And boy did he help me! Just not in the way I expected.
When I finally got a moment of peace I realized I was physically and emotionally drained and I needed to spend some time in the Word. Yeah, there’s nothing like cracking open the word of God when you think you’re doing alright, and getting your behind kicked into shape.
1st Peter 5:5-12 says this:
“5Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
Skip ahead a verse and Paul shares that his purpose in writing this is to tell us that “this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”
Boy, was I convicted after reading this passage.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
What does pride have to do with suffering? A lot, apparently.
Because when I’m having a hard day, and I’m grumbling and complaining and getting angry at my circumstances, what I’m saying is that I don’t deserve this. I shouldn’t have to deal with this. Where’s God’s grace when I need it? That’s pride!
“Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you”.
But what does anxiety have to do with pride?
I never understood what anxiety had to do with pride, until now. Anxiety is an often irrational fear of suffering. If pride is saying “I shouldn’t be suffering”, anxiety says “I can’t, and I won’t.” That’s Pride!
Take it from someone who has seen anxiety run its course. Sometimes, anxiety can be so debilitating that it can ruin a person’s health, and their relationships! But, it’s in our humility, these times when we say “it’s ok God, I know that what you are doing is bigger than my circumstances, and your plans are so much better than mine”, where we are protected by His grace.
How often do we believe that the hardships we are suffering are the attacks of the enemy?
And yet, this passage tells us that our brothers and sisters are suffering just like us, but the enemy is prowling around, waiting for someone to devour. The enemy is waiting for us to fall victim to anxiety so that He can prevent us from walking through our circumstances in faith so that God can do greater works in our spirits. He is waiting for us to break off the relationships with people who would strengthen and encourage us in our time of need. He is waiting for our proud and fearful moments to whisper “This is too big for you. You’ll be hurt. You can’t do it.”
But the attack of the enemy isn’t the frustrating events that turn our days upside down. It’s in the moments where we let our guard down, take up pride, walk away from the grace of God, and say “I deserve better than this!” “I deserve to be safe.” “I deserve to be happy.”
It’s in these moments, when we decide in our feeble minds and our human spirits that we think we know what’s best. When we are no longer submitting to God’s authority over our lives, that’s when the enemy attacks what is most precious to us; our faith.
“At the proper time, He will exalt you.”
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
He is promising that one day, when the time is right, He will exalt us. Because He has called us to eternal glory (not temporary, but eternal!)
This reminded me of another passage that talks about suffering. James 1:2 says:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Our glory isn’t in our having good days, perfect meals, clean houses or kids who act like angels. It isn’t found in perfect health or relationships or rest filled nights or happy feelings. Our glory is bigger than this. It’s greater. It’s eternal.
And when we face our trials with humility, and trust that the work God is producing in our spirits is infinitely more important than we can imagine, He protects the parts of us that He wants most. He protects the parts of us that the enemy is waiting to devour; our spirits.
“This is the true grace of God.”