(As told by my daddy, Pastor Bill Lobbs)
In my growing up years, there were certain household rules we children were expected to follow. They were rules made by Mom and Dad with the good of the family in mind. However, some of them really didn’t make any sense to us as children. For example, Mom’s unchanging rule: you have to eat a little bit of everything served at mealtimes.
You are made to grow.
Most times that presented no problem because Mom was a fabulous cook. But there was one thing she sometimes served that did present a problem. At least it did for me, because I just couldn’t eat it without gagging. Spinach was its name and slick and slimy was its game. Meals with spinach became a time of intense suffering for me. I couldn’t stand the taste of it and just the thought of having to put it in my mouth made me sick.
The goal is growth, the soil is grace.
Mealtimes with spinach became a battle of the wills between Mom and me. Another one of her rules was that until we had eaten everything on our plate, we weren’t allowed to leave the table. Many times, after everyone else had left the table and Mom was doing dishes, I was still sitting there trying to force that spinach down my throat.
I remember her saying, “Eat it; it’s filled with vitamins and nutrition. Your body needs it. It will help you to grow.” In my childish thinking, anything that looked and tasted so bad could not possibly be good for me, no matter how many minerals or vitamins it contained. I thought the logical place for it was the garbage can, but Mom’s presence kept that from happening.
In the years that followed, I learned Mom was right, spinach was good for me. I did need its nutrients and it did help me to grow. Amazingly enough, because of Mom’s persistent I did learn to eat spinach without gagging.
The end of life is not happiness, but growth in character and achievement.
The Heavenly Father promotes growth in His children in much the same manner as a mother. The goal of both is to produce strong, healthy growing children. She wants hers to grow physically; Father God wants His to grow spiritually.
To accomplish this, both know it can require children to be served things they might not like, but are necessary for growth. When it is served we push it away and say,
“I know I’m not going to like this. It’s going to be a problem to me. I don’t want it, take it away.”
But Father God says,
“I know you don’t want it. I know it’s going to be a problem to you. But it is good for you. It will help you to grow spiritually.”
When problems are served up in their life, many people believe God is mad at them, or perhaps He has abandoned them. They think they must be out of His will or those things wouldn’t be happening to them. But that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it is within the will of God for us to experience problems in our life.
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the thick of what Christ experienced. This is the spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” I Peter 4:12-13, (The Message)
God’s scripture doesn’t reveal everything we would like to know on the subject of problems, but He does have valid reasons for allowing problems to be served up in the lives of His children. At the time, we may not understand His reasons; but afterwards, we find it was always for our good. Each problem promoted spiritual growth and enlarged us in ways we never thought possible.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Let me share a personal word with you.
In those moments when everything seems to be against you, when you feel abandoned and question God’s presence, I say this: take heart and heart look up. God is at work in your life. He is behind the scenes leading, directing and molding your life and using these problems to do it.
If you are encountering struggles, hardships, obstacles and problems in your life, remember this:
· It is struggles that make a person strong.
· It is hardships that make a person an overcomer.
· It is obstacles that provide a person with the greatest opportunity to excel.
· It is problems that develop and direct us.
Andre Crouch wrote about this in his song entitled: Through it All.
I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions for tomorrow; there have been times I didn’t know right from wrong. But in every situation, God gave blessed consolation that my trials come only to make me strong.
I thank God for the mountains I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through. For if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that He could solve them I’d never know what faith in God can do.
Through it all — through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all — through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.