Last night I had a dream. A child had a cereal box, but was not content until the box had been folded up and basically turned into a cardboard ball. At that point, they were as happy as could be. If you have children, you know this is entirely plausible. Kids... go figure.
I awoke from the dream and this passage was filling my head...
Now we have this treasure [of the Gospel] in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
I'm not trying to find meaning in my dream. I had chili, Cheetos, and a Milky Way candy bar right before bed. But I woke up from a contented child with a crushed cereal box thinking about how being crushed isn't the worst thing. Christ was crushed because of my sin. It isn't good that Christ was crushed. But it was good for me. Now, whatever I go through is far less than what He endured for my benefit. So whatever stress I go through, whether from the enemy, or from God, it is to turn me into what will make God happy. It isn't for my pleasure, but for His.
Yes, as Paul related in the above passage, the enemy puts the stress test to us in order to break us. But as children of God, the enemy cannot break us entirely while we are in God's hand. Think about Job.
But God also puts us through a stress test. After king David's great sin with Bathsheba, he speaks very intimately with God and says, "Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt." - Psalm 51:6-9
He asks God to purify him with hyssop. This is a purifying agent. It just does what it does when applied. But he also asks that God would wash him. This refers to a scrubbing process. It is about elbow grease. It puts stress on the fabric. Satan does not purify or wash us. He tries to make it so we are all washed up, but he has no plan to clean us up. Sometimes you can apply a chemical agent to clean dirty clothes... but sometimes you just have to pull it to the side and scrub it up. God is willing to scrub us to make us clean. This is good, but there is stress involved.
Look at what David said about God causing the bones that He had crushed to rejoice again. Yeah... that's difficult to read. But what a relationship that he would trust the same God who crushed him to heal him. He was able to do this because he was focused on the end game... holiness.
I don't know what you are going through. You may be in a good spot. You may feel crushed by the enemy. You may be crushed by God. But God can clean and restore. And in the end, you will be better for it. Do not focus on the temporary chaos and crisis. Jesus looked beyond the cross to save you. You can look beyond your affliction to serve Him.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.