Several weeks ago, I was able to travel to southern California for work. One of the things I always do when I am out there is to go look at the ocean. In this case I was a Laguna Beach. It was a beautiful day and the ocean just looked so fantastic. As I looked out into the horizon of the west coast, there was ocean filling my view as far as I could see. The vastness of it was very overwhelming. As I walked right up to a rock formation, I was able to observe all kinds of little ocean creatures and see them living their lives, mostly unaware of the vastness of the water filled world they lived in.
The ocean is a fascinating element of God’s creation. Think about all the undiscovered creatures and unexplored areas in the depths of the ocean. In March of 2012, Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron completed a one-man submarine dive of the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep. It was a 7 mile journey into what National Geographic describes as “Earth’s deepest, and perhaps most alien realm.” During his voyage to the bottom of the ocean, Cameron lost sight of the life that exists above the water. He was in another world, a world mostly unknown to us, and he was completely engrossed in his surroundings.
A lot of times our day-to-day lives are like that. We get so buried in our routines, culture, and problems that we lose sight of God’s eternal perspective and what He is trying to do. We forget about our dependency on God’s grace and power. We are familiar with our own lives and routines so we try to control this part of our lives because we think we have a handle on whatever will come our way. Do we really have control though?
I would like to look at the following passage from 2 Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
In this passage Paul is encouraging Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” If we read this verse each and every morning, it still wouldn’t remind us frequently enough that our strength comes from Jesus, not ourselves. This is especially true when we hit the challenging seasons in our lives. For Timothy, serving a difficult, oppositional congregation in a culture of persecution was tough, but so are the challenges we face in our lives. For us, these challenges could be anything.
Paul’s words serve as a reminder that everything we experience in life is an opportunity to grow more aware of God’s grace and our need for Him. If any blessing comes from the trials and suffering that we experience in our lives, it’s seeing God transforming us through it. Despite our temptation to pray for the end of our trials, we should really consider whether this is wise or not. If we don’t experience those trials, we miss the opportunity to emerge in a stronger relationship with God than we ever could imagine.
Maybe instead of trying to avoid our trials, we should learn to embrace them.