I have a slight problem with this Bible verse: We can rejoice when we run into problems… (Romans 5:3)
Honestly, I don’t exactly rejoice when I run into problems. I don’t say, “Oh goodie, my kids are sick!” or “Yabadabadoo, I just had a car accident!”
But perhaps God isn’t telling me to rejoice because of the problem. Instead, God is telling me to rejoice because of the purpose of the problem.
I believe problems have many purposes. And I believe the most important purpose of problems is to shape our Character.
After 30+ years of following God, I’ve come to a very BIG and very DISTURBING realization. (Warning: You won’t like what I’m going to say.) I’ve come to realize that God values my Character more than my Comfort.
Yes, God Values Your Character More Than Your Comfort
I wish it ain’t so.
I wish His first priority was my comfort. I wish His first priority was to solve my problems.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I believe He cares for you when you’re sick. He cares for you when you can’t pay your bills. He cares for you when you’re broken hearted. He cares for you when you worry about your future.
All those things are important to Him, but His first priority is to shape your Character.
I understand this.
Because I’m a father of two boys. As their Dad, I’ve got a lot of wishes for them. I want them to be handsome, but that’s already a done deal because of genetics. (They take from their mother.) I want them to be healthy; I want them to be wealthy; But more than healthy and wealthy, I want them to be godly. Because if they’re not godly, they won’t be happy.
More than anything else, as a father, I want them to be loving, faithful, humble, honest, selfless…
God is a Father too. I repeat: He values your Character more than your Comfort. Your soul more than your body. Your eternal life more than your physical life.
Because in your death, you’ll leave behind your comfort, your career, your cars, your clothes, your cash,… The only thing you’ll bring to Heaven is your Character.
3 Things That A Crisis Does To Your Character
A Crisis has three unique effects on your Character. So unique, very few things in this world can do these three things.
1. A Crisis Diagnoses Your Character
You’ll know what kind of Character you have not when everything is rosy, fine, and dandy. Not when the sun is shining. Not when all your plans go smoothly. Not when everyone likes you.
You’ll know what kind of Character you have when your dreams are delayed, when your trials abound, and when your obstacles multiply.
Let me give you an analogy: Your character is like a tea bag.
You won’t know if a tea bag is any good just by looking at it. Or smelling it. Or feeling it in your hand. You’ll only know if a teabag is good if you dunk it in hot water. So let me ask you a question: How do you act when you get dunked in hot water?
Character is how you behave when life is very far from what how you imagined it to be. Character is how you behave when everything is totally going wrong and you’re being attacked by problems at every side.
How do you react when trials come? When people criticize you? When friends betray you? When others don’t believe you? When you have no money to pay your bills? When your kids are going astray? When a family member has cancer?
Amidst the trials, will you remain faithful?
Will you remain loving?
Will you remain patient?
Will you remain kind?
The Bible says, When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. (James 1:2-3)
A Crisis diagnoses your Character. But it only doesn’t diagnose…
2. A Crisis Develops Your Character
Imagine Jaime, a 4-year old boy wandering into the kitchen.
While there, he sees a frying pan filled with yummy French fries. As he walks near it, his mother sees him and says, “Don’t you dare touch that pan. It will burn you!” So the little boy walks away, pouting that he didn’t get to do what he wanted to do.
The next day, he’s in the kitchen again. And he sees the frying pan with a new batch of French fries in it. He smells the delicious aroma of newly cooked potatoes. He looks around and doesn’t see his Mom. In his little mind, he thinks, “No Mom, No Rules!”
He touches it. And instantly, the house is filled with a piercing shriek, “Mommeeeeeeeeee!”
Flash-forward a few minutes later: The mother is holding her little boy’s hand under running water. He continues to cry because the burn still stings. And he will never forget the lesson for the rest of his life.
Trials are like that. They burn. But they burn for a reason: To teach us lessons we’ll never forget for the rest of our life. I agree when Proverbs 20:30 says, Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.
Here’s a law of this universe: Tests are repeated until the lesson is learned.
Little Jaime’s little hand will get burned again and again if he doesn’t learn his lesson. The hot pan doesn’t care how many little hands it will burn. The hot pan is a relentless, tireless teacher.
My strong recommendation? Learn the lesson as quickly as you can. When it comes to lessons from trials, be a sponge. Soak it in. Don’t be hard headed.
And there’s even a better way of learning…
Try To Get The Teaching Without The Trial
4-year old Jaime has a 3-year old sister named Antonia. And Antonia saw her brother cry in pain for thirty long minutes. She heard the wailing. She saw the red burn in his little hand. Somehow, she felt the pain he was feeling.
A few weeks later, Antonia was playing in the neighbour’s house. While there, she wanders into the kitchen because she smelled macaroni and cheese. And there it was on a hot frying pan on top of the kitchen table.
She looks at it and remembers the painful scenes two weeks ago. She remembers the agony of her brother Jaime. No matter how delicious it looked, she doesn’t touch it. Instead, she calls someone to give her some macaroni and cheese.
We need to be as wise as little Antonia: Try to get the teaching without the trial. All you have to do is to relive their suffering. To hear their cry. To feel their pain.To listen to their stories.
I love listening to people’s stories. I love talking to successful people and asking them, “What made you successful?” But I also love talking to people who failed and asking them, “What made you fail?” I learn so much.
Finally, there’s a third thing that a Crisis does to your Character…
3. A Crisis Defends Your Character
If you’re brave enough, I want you to do a 3-phase experiment at home. (Warning: Be prepared to be wet and dirty.)
Phase One is simple. First, catch a frog from your backyard. A real, slimy, green frog. (I told you it’s going to be wet and dirty.)
Second, boil a kettle of water. Once the water hits boiling point, drop the frog into the kettle.
You’ll observe that the frog will not like what you just did. He won’t be pleased. He’ll jump out of the kettle with superfrog strength. Because of this traumatic experience, he may experience a nervous breakdown, but if you provide adequate psychotherapy, he’ll get over it.
Phase Two is more interesting.
First, catch the frog that’s jumping around your kitchen. Tell him that psychotherapy will have to wait as he is needed for another experiment.
Second, get another kettle and fill it with tap water—and drop the frog into the kettle.
You’ll notice that Mr. Kermit won’t jump out the way it did in Phase One. In fact, you’ll observe that the frog is relaxed, doing gentle breaststrokes in the water.
Next, place the kettle on your cooking range and start a low fire—the minimum heat possible.
You’ll observe that the frog won’t even notice. In fact, you made him even more comfortable. He starts doing backstrokes. If you listen close enough, you may hear the frog whistling the tune of My Heart Goes On by Celine Dion.
And soon, it closes its eyes, dozes off, and in a few minutes—as the water is steaming hot, you realize that you no longer have to pay for frog psychotherapy because the frog is dead.
Here’s Phase 3…
Throw in some chopped carrots, and you have something to eat for dinner.
What’s my point?
Sometimes, a crisis is good because it wallops you. It shocks you. It wakes you up. It burns your hand and you scream, “Mommeeeeeeeeee!”
But perhaps that’s the point! So that you won’t end up as dinner soup.
Difficulties Keep You Away From Danger
Honestly, I wish I never went through my problems. I wish everything went my way.
I wish I was never molested as a child.
I wish my wife never lost her three babies via miscarriage.
I wish I didn’t have to go through each day with leadership burdens on my shoulder.
But looking back, I thank God for my trials! Because I’ve noticed that every trial that I went through made me cry out to God, “Mommeeeeeeeeee!”
When you know that only God can save you, it keeps you humble. It removes your pride. It pushes you to seek God.
About problems, the Bible says, It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws. (Psalm 119:71-72)
Let me tell you one of my favorite stories…
What Kind Of Scars Do You Have?
One day, a mother and her little boy went to the farm.
Through the kitchen window, she saw her little boy dive into the lake behind the house. It was such a glorious sight, just seeing her son swim through the water.
Suddenly, she screamed in terror. For from the opposite direction, something was also swimming to her boy’s direction—and he didn’t know. It was an alligator!
She ran out to him, all the while shouting to the top of her lungs, “Get out of the lake! There’s an alligator!”
The little boy saw the oncoming alligator. He turned around and started swimming back as fast as he could.
When he touched land, two things happened at the same time. The mother grabbed his arms but the alligator sunk its sharp teeth on his legs. What happened next was a tug-o-war between his mother and the beast. The alligator was very strong, but so was his mother’s love. She simply wouldn’t let go.
A few minutes later, a man who was driving in his truck saw what was happening. Moving quickly, he got out of his truck, grabbed his rifle, and shot the alligator.
A couple of weeks later, the little boy was in the hospital recuperating from his wounds. A journalist entered his room, wanting to interview him.
After a few questions, she asked, “Would you mind if we get a photo of your wounds?”
“Sure,” the little boy said. “I have two wounds. Which ones do you want to photograph?”
The journalist didn’t understand. “What do you mean?”
The little boy removed his blanket and exposed his scarred legs. “These are the scars from the alligator’s teeth.” His legs were covered with ugly puncture wounds.
He then said, “But my other wounds—that’s what I’m proud of. He exposed his arms, and showed off the ugly scars of his mother’s fingernails that dug deep into his skin. “I love these scars because they represent my mother’s love. The reason why I have these scars is because my mother would not let go of me.”
Friend, if you look into your life, you’ll find that you too have these scars. They come from a God that held on to you and wouldn’t let go. Were it not for those scars, you would have been swallowed up by the enemy.
Perhaps you didn’t get that job you prayed for. Perhaps you didn’t get the guy you wanted. Perhaps you didn’t get the project you worked for. God sees the future. He saw that if you got what you wanted, you would be swallowed up by the enemy. So He pulled you back. You got hurt. You got denied. You got rejected. Yes, you have scars—but these are scars of God’s Love for you!
Trials have a way of bringing you closer to God.
Dear friend, bounce from your trials.
May your dreams come true,
PS. Last Call Before We Close Doors: Do You Want To Build Multiple Income Streams? Join Me At My TrulyRich Financial Coaching Program on May 25 and 26 in Pasig. I want to teach more people to gain financial freedom. For more information, click on at the link below…
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