My mum gave me a book to read last Friday, called “Come of Age, The Road to Spiritual Maturity.” By Angus Buchan. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. And so I finished it on Monday. There was one phrase he quoted and I wish I had bookmarked it, so I could easily refer to it, which said, “The only way anyone can increase their faith is by going through the school of deep sorrow. ” What an incredible statement to make in the era of easy Christianity. It’s an incredible statement to make when we consider so much of modern Christianity is based on escapism. (Okay, I know, I am making some huge sweeping generalisations here! ) But you get my drift. It seems to me that many of us are wanting to have an easy life handed to them on a platter. And truthfully, I am one of them.
Life really hurts sometimes. Life really sucks sometimes. Sometimes its through our own doing. And other times its forced upon us. Sometimes life sucks because of the poor choices we make. Sometimes life sucks because its the result of the poor choices others have made. And sometimes its either a combination of the two, or neither of the two. Sometimes, it just is. God never promises a road called “Easy Street!” when we turn to him. He does indeed say come to me all who are heavily burdened; for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. And indeed, God does make our burdens lighter and our lives become easier when we start walking his ways, with him, following him.
But, its in the dark sorrowful times, when we turn to God, that our faith grows the most. For some its going through the dark times which is the catalyst for us to turn to God and seek his face. To admit our sins, to admit we need Jesus. Though its rare that anyone turns to God when life is going great for them – its often the case that when easy street becomes a street with potholes, and corrugations and turns into rough street – those with easy believism turn away. But, those who persevere through the dark times; turning to God, asking him to help them in and through the dark times, its to them, where that school of sorrow, becomes the seedbed of true faith. It becomes the seedbed of mature faith.
The author of Hebrews tells us that God disciplines those he loves. For many, discipline has the connotations of punishment. But, discipline in this context is not one of punishment; instead discipline is in the context of the athlete running his miles day after day to build up his strength for a marathon. Its in the context of the olympic swimmer, getting up early every morning and doing their laps every day. Or the weight lifter building his muscles in the gym day after day. Or within a more mundane area of life, its like those of us who are trying to lose weight, when we say no to that extra helping. Discipline is what we do when we deny ourselves, because our goals are better for us. Discipline is when we teach our children to know right from wrong. When we make them do their homework, or chores, even if they do protest against it.
While God uses the hard times to teach us discipline and grow our faith stronger, its important for us to note, that while at times God can indeed be the author of what we are going through – sometimes its happened because of sin in the world: Personal sin, the sin of others. And sometimes it can the result of demonic activity. And sometimes, it can just be what it is. God says to us that while he may not cause every situation that we find ourselves in – he does promise that he will cause good to come out of every situation for those who believe and trust in him.
If you are going through the school of hard knocks and deep sorrows at this point in time, my pray for you is that you will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge so that you will know Christ better. I pray that your faith will not fail you and that instead, you will grow from faith to faith, and know that God indeed is for you and not against you.