Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trial or Consequences

There are many different versions of the following definitions. I chose just a few to make my point.

Trial: a. The act or process of testing, trying, or putting to the proof.
b. An instance of such testing, especially as part of a series of tests or experiments.
3. An effort or attempt.
4. A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief.
5. A trying, troublesome, or annoying person or thing.

Consequence: 1. Something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition.
2. The relation of a result to its cause.
3. A logical conclusion or inference.

In Hebrews 12, we are taught that the Lord disciplines those He loves. We tend to confuse the two terms above. But, if you look at the meanings, you can see the differences.

To put is simply, a trial is something in which you have/had no part in causing. A consequence is the result of your actions.

There are some instances in life when it is quite obvious which issue you are dealing with. Breaking the law, meaning rude or mean to others, etc. These are things from which you would suffer the consequences of your actions.

But what about disease, poverty, ridicule? Would you consider these trials? What if you are a child in these circumstances? What if you have done everything within your power including leaning on God and still no relief?

What about family strife? There are situations in which we are not immediately involved. We can suffer the backlash of other family members for not taking sides or for standing up for the truth. But, we also sometimes contemplate the cause of the strife. If we did something in the past that we feel could have lead to the current situation, is that a consequence?

I can't help but think of Job. His trial caused him to look more deeply at himself. While on the surface he appears quite righteous, and indeed he is a righteous man, he does see things about himself that I don't think he would have seen had God not chosen him.

But when we talk to each other, we never see our issues as consequences of our own actions. We almost always play the "God is refining me by giving me this trial" card. While this is true in some cases, it isn't in every case. We all need guidance to distinguish the difference. We need strength to face who we really are and what role we have played in our current circumstance. We need humility to kneel before God and repent so that we can move on. We need courage to go to the other person and face them and admit our role in the situation.

God is the key. He is the one to show you the difference. Through the Holy Spirit He guides us gently to the truth. From there, we have to make the choice to repent or keep wallowing in our own self-pity. While we agonize over what seems to be the hardest of decisions, we fail to remember that God is also preparing the other person to receive you. While that doesn't mean that they will always welcome you with open arms, it does mean that God will see you through the outcome.

By knowing the difference between trials and consequences, we can more effectively witness to others and also look at our own situations more closely to examine exactly what is really going on.

1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    This is so truthfully stated!

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