Monday, April 18, 2005

Growth and Destruction

Trials don't build you -- God does.

I've heard many people, when referring to the pains and trials and obstacles of life, say that God has allowed this bad thing to happen so that they might grow as a Christian. Adversity builds character, they say, so God allows his children to be attacked and injured by the world and the devil in order to grow stronger and more Christ-like. It's a nice enough sentiment, because it makes sense of the senseless violence and pain we see around us, and in our own lives.

The problem is that it's not true.

The Enemy's attacks are designed to destroy us, not build us. He seeks out our weakest points and attacks them mercilessly in an effort to make us ineffective. Left to ourselves, without the help of God, we would (and do) quickly fall under the onslaught. There would be no building of character or increase of Christ-likeness. We would simply crash and burn.

It is depending on God and overcoming those attacks that builds us up and strengthens us. It's not that God sends trials to strengthen us, but that God strengthens us so we can overcome trials, through things like the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians. It's just that it usually takes a trial or two to realise we need to depend on God and let him help.

To demonstrate with an example: the first two fingers on my right hand have thick calluses on them from playing bass guitar. The skin there is very thick, to protect my fingers from injury on the strings of the guitar. The strings themselves don't make my finger skin stronger, they tear at it and weaken it. It's my body that responds to the attacks and strengthens itself in that area. Trials force us to rely on God, and the more we do that, the stronger we grow.

The pain and anguish of trials and difficulties could be avoided if we trusted and grew in Christ beforehand. Not that there would be no trials, mind you, we would just be prepared for them and they wouldn't be a big deal to us. It's like the difference between a regular guy fighting some thug with a knife, and a black belt in karate doing the same. The first fight is extremely difficult and painful. The second can hardly even be called a fight. Has the guy with the black belt become that good at fighting by being beat up by thugs with knives for days on end? Of course not, the only thing that results from getting beat up by a thug with a knife is a lot of pain. No, Mr. Black Belt got where he is by studying and practicing and training in a dojo somewhere. Similarly, we don't grow as Christians by getting beat up by the attacks of the enemy and the world. We grow as Christians by studying the Bible, practicing our faith in prayer and worship, and training with our fellow Christians.

Will our lives be perfect and utterly free of difficult experiences when we grow more like Christ? No. There are some things even a black belt has difficulty with. However, we do have one advantage over our black-belted friend: the black belt's skill is based in his own ability, and his abilities are finite. There are some things he just cannot do, and some fights he simply cannot win, no matter how much he trains. We, on the other hand, do not rely on our own ability, but God's. With God, there is nothing he cannot do, and no fight he cannot win. The more we rely on him, the stronger we will grow, and there is no upper limit on that.


SEZ said...

Wow, Krig! What an encouraging Word!
I believe it. I have a feeling it's been tried and true in your own life, too.
Mom (Might as well admit it, now.) :)

Karyn said...

Hey Jared, how very true, it's hard to think if it like that. Awesome blog, and thanks :)

Rusty said...

Have you been asking for Wisdom
J-Z???? I love it when I learn such deep truths from someone so young. It is both encouraging and humbling. Awesome Blog! It's enough to make your friend's mom proud.(In a good way!)

carly said...

wow jz that was an incredible blog man!! thanks for the uplifting-ness. before this i really thought that it was the pain and crap that strengthens us. thanks for sharing the truth! keep it up:)

fleamarketcreep said...

Amazing. I have never thought of it that way. Espeically being raised in a contemporary church.

Changes a lot.