I touched on this in a comment to Sarah, but now I know the Lord has given this to me so clearly (at least I hope it comes out clearly), that I need to get it out there. Once you read the links, you'll see that there are many individuals who are suffering through tremendous trials right now. As Sarah said, it's too much to bear alone. But, as I told Sarah, one thing I've learned over the past several years is that every time I feel like I've been smashed to pieces, God takes the shards & makes a beautiful mosaic...like this one.
It's hard to tell from the picture, but there must be thousands upon thousands of tiles that composed this stunning portrait. Amazing how they all come together to form something of such truth & beauty.
1 Peter 1:3 - 9 tells us that we are guaranteed an inheritance in Heaven and that we are shielded by God until Jesus returns. We can rejoice in these things, EVEN THOUGH we are suffering trials here on earth. Note, Peter does NOT say we should rejoice in our trials. I've heard this passage misquoted by well-meaning Christians who thought he was saying just that. Peter IS saying that no matter what happens here, we can rejoice that our inheritance in Heaven is secure & that God is shielding us. Nothing happens to us that God doesn't know about or allow. NOT ONE THING. Does that mean I LIKE everything that happens to me? Of course not! But I can trust that God is in control & He sees the mosaic He's crafting. Honestly, I don't always have such faith, but I should.
Peter goes on to say that even though we "suffer grief in all kinds of trials", these obstacles are coming because God wants to refine our faith. As Sarah said, how would we ever know to trust God if we didn't have to lean on Him? How could we know that we have faith in Him if faith itself weren't necessary? God wants our faith to be "proved genuine" (v. 7). God already knows how faithful we are (or aren't), so perhaps the proving is for ourselves. With His strength & guidance, I've withstood more than I thought I could ever bear. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can given that kind of testimony.
Our faith is also proven to those who are watching. Peter says that these trials come so that they "may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." When we have faith, we encourage others who watch how we trust in God. Maybe, just maybe, we unknowingly model faith for someone, just by the way we put our trust in the Lord. And God will be glorified. All of those broken pieces come together like this one.
Each trial or obstacle we encounter, painful and unexpected though it may be, can be used to create a living testimony to God. I pray that I will have the courage & strength to allow Him to take the broken pieces of my life, my plans & my dreams and glue them together in such a way that brings honor to His Holy Name. That others say of me (as I say of Sarah, Addie, Amy, Boomama, Elise, and the others), that "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him." (v. 8)
Praise you, Sweet Precious Jesus!
(Note: These mosaics were created by Francis Scott Bradford & are in the American Cemetery & Memorial in England. You can find the link to these mosaics here.)