If we see someone who is drowning, that is not the time to talk about swimming lessons. When someone is drowning, he needs a life preserver thrown to him, rather than a lecture on his failure to take swimming lessons.
Lessons for Believers
Many Christians believe that believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is all that we need to be saved. This is true of course, but if that is all we know, then we are called “babes in Christ” or worse, since, “even the demons believe that and shudder (James 2:19). What is important is that we need to grow in maturity by learning all the things the Bible teaches us.
Some believers think that life of the faithful ones should be free from problems unless they do something stupid. Neither life, nor the Scripture, support that view, but the Bible gives us wonderful tools to cope with hard times. However, those tools are only effective if we are “skilled in using those tools” before hard times hit. We need to learn to swim before we are in danger of drowning.
Let’s face it: Life has its ups and downs; it has easy times of refreshing and hard times to build our character. There is nothing we can do to prevent this cycle, but we can prepare ourselves to weather the storms of life.
In the vast majority of real life situations, the difference between victory and defeat is determined by our attitude. When someone we love is going through hard times, that is not the time to share Scripture verses with them, just as lecturing a drowning man is not helpful. When we know someone who is beaten down by life’s trials, we need to love them and help them bear their burdens. Then, after they have been through that trial and recovered, we need to urge them to study the Scriptures of God’s promises about our future with Christ and the path we need to follow.
My wife and I have gone through serious hardships together, both in our personal lives as well as in our finances. However, we are enjoying life, enjoy serving the Lord, and we are leading happy lives. Why is it that people who went through serious hard times are leading happy and fulfilled lives, while some people are unhappy, even though they had mostly easy times? The answer is that hard times are not there to crush us, but to strengthen us. Scripture shows us that God will not permit hard times to be so tough that we would break, but He watches over us and limits the severity of the trials so that we can go through those times strengthened, rather than crushed. Easy times offer respite and refreshing from the hard times, but we will only benefit from the easy times if we use them to strengthen our faith in the Lord. If we fail to do that, then easy times may actually weaken our commitment to God and be detrimental to us.
If we use the easy times to study the Scriptures, confirming that God uses all things to make us more into the image of Christ, then we are preparing ourselves for all of life’s situations. Moreover, if we understand that true character and integrity can only be gained through hardship, we will embrace hardship, rather than run away from it. In the process, our faith will be strengthened, and when our faith is tried and proven, we will have a hope that will not disappoint us because it is not wishful thinking, but solid expectation based on experience.
The Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Anything else is not the purpose of the Bible. If we are still arguing whether God created the universe in 6 days, we are completely missing the point. God is not subject to time. But, the real question should not be when and how, but it should be: Who? Who created the universe? God did. All the other things have nothing to do with our doctrine, and they may be accurate or not. They have the same significance as the “details” of Jesus’ parables. Parables usually only have one point and all the details should not be used for doctrine, but are there only to illustrate the point of the parable. By the way: Only Jesus is qualified to tell us what the point of each parable is, and He did that.
When we have this solid faith that is built on the rock of God’s word, we can take hold of the promise that we are being changed into His image and that all suffering is just there to accomplish that purpose. For, suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope (Rom. 5:3-4). And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.