The Hard, Hard Way

Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate.

Temptation appeals to our God-given desires.  He created our taste buds to enjoy food and our eyes to enjoy beauty and our curious minds to take pleasure in learning.  The world is our smorgasbord of delights.  God wills our pleasure.  The fault lies not in our desires or in our seeking to fulfill them, but in the path we take to that end.  Some paths harm us—over-indulgence, folly, fixation—and other paths harm others as well—aggression, manipulation, deceit.  Every path that trespasses on forbidden ground is going to end in our sorrow, not our joy.  That is precisely why God has warned against it.  His commands are not for his sake, but for our sake, like maps that help us skirt bogs, cliffs, and deserts or that give us guidance as we go through them.

As long as we think God’s laws are to block rather than enhance our greatest joys, we will feel resentment, distrust, and rebellion.  In short, we will doubt his love.  He wants our trust, not simply so that we will find blessing in the way he lays out for us, important as that is to him, but so that our relationship with him will be deep and intimate.  Trust is a bedrock of such a relationship. 

Sometimes trusting him is particularly hard, especially when his way leads into pain, disappointment, and loss that is relentless and unending.  We feel we are being pulled apart instead of put together, broken instead of healed, weakened instead of strengthened.  Often it is only after a long stretch of this journey that we can look back and see how far we have come—our faith, insight, character, and relationships deepened.  We have been changed, perhaps imperceptibly at the time, but now quite evidently to us, and we would not trade that progress for short-term comfort.  His plan is usually the hardest, but the most rewarding.  His love is intense and full and when we see it, it lifts our lagging hearts.

Father, this life is often such a strain on my heart.  I flag, stumble, fall and get up to keep going through the fire.  Give me hope and trust and more glimpses of the good to encourage my faint heart.

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