On the one hand, I want to write about how the Bible teaches us that God is glorified by how we trust Him amidst whatever troubles we face in this world, no matter how unpleasant they may be and no matter how long they last. That way, when people around us see that we can have real peace and joy and gratitude no matter what the circumstances, we will clearly demonstrate that God is our treasure above all else, and that even if we lose everything -- even our lives -- but still have Christ, we would call that "gain" (Philippians 1:21).
On the other hand, I want to write about how the Bible teaches us that God is glorified by how we persistently pursue Him as the One who can deliver us from desperate circumstances, trusting Him as the God who can do miracles to rescue or heal us. That way, when people around us see the great deliverances God can work for those who cry out to Him in faith, God will clearly be seen as the God who lovingly responds to those who depend on Him (James 5:15).
So I find myself writing that God is glorified when we faithfully trust Him in the midst of troubles, and that God is glorified when our prayers of faith result in deliverance from troubles. Which is it? Trust or change? Trusting God's wisdom to allow certain difficulties to persist in my life as He rules and reigns amidst every circumstance, or seeking to change things in this world through persistent prayer or by exercising the authority God has delegated to His disciples?
I believe the answer is both. I've certainly written about both those themes in this blog. For me, those two perspectives represent the two pedals on the bike of the Christian life (metaphorically speaking, of course). To live as a Christian with only one of those two perspectives is like awkwardly riding a bicycle with only one pedal.
In a sense, this is the Biblical tension between God's sovereign decree that "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33) and God's encouragement for us to not lose heart in prayer because God will surely "bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night" (Luke 18:7). This suggests that there are difficult circumstances we must go through in order to grow in character (Romans 5:3-4), to grow in endurance (James 1:2-3) and to grow in faith (1 Peter 1:6). It also suggests that there are other times when God wants us to persistently and confidently pursue Him for a change in our circumstances so that we will be more fruitful (John 15:16) and more joyful (John 16:24), and so that we would "find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16) and God would be glorified as He helps us (John 14:13).
Sometimes it's not easy to know which of those two outlooks to adopt when we face a mountain in our life. My rule of thumb is to seek to move the mountain by "the prayer of faith" (James 5:15) in Jesus (pedal #1), all the while trusting Jesus as my Sufficiency as I pray about that mountain -- especially if the mountain simply refuses to budge (pedal #2). That's how I keep moving forward in my Christian life, come what may!
© 2010 by Ken Peters