If It’s Tough, Good!
Of course, life is no smooth flow. If the Bible says it is from faith to faith, and from grace to grace, we can add it is also from problem to problem!
What do problems or pressures do to us? Or temptations? They consciously involve us in situations. We cannot float quietly along past rocks which make rapids. We are aroused. We have to do something about them. Aroused humanity is exactly where God can express Himself as God. In the multitudinous situations of the world around us in which we have no participation, we can make no contribution. They do not affect us, and we do not affect them. But where we are personally involved, there we have an effect, and God by us.
Our human pressures and involvements, therefore, are the one and only way by which God through humanity can reach humanity. It is the principle of the incarnation, and the reason why it is God’s predestined plan that we should be fully humans in every kind of human situation. Jesus was “tempted in all points as we are.” This gives full meaning and intelligent incentive to our acceptance of James’ word, “Count it all joy when you meet various trials.” They have a vital purpose, every one of them.
But just at this point there is something we need clearly to recognize about our humanity. We humans are the negative to God’s positive. No positive can be manifested except by contrast with and absorption of its negative. Each is necessary to the other and belongs to the other as its polar opposite. You cannot know light except in contrast to dark, or soft except in contrast to hard, or yes without no. Light is invisible unless it is reflected against a non-light body, such as the moon or earth, and swallows it up. Then you don’t see the moon but the glory of the light, or the earth except as clothed with all the colors of the light. A soft bed must have a hard framework, but the mattress must conquer the bedstead! Flesh must have bones, a decisive yes derives its strength from a conquest of the alternative no’s. So we are God’s polar opposite. We are the “are-nots” in relation to God’s “I am.”
Paul speaks of us having “this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” He so clearly saw this fact and principle, when he told how he had a thorn in the flesh which God did not remove though he besought Him three times. Instead God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”: and Paul added that, therefore, he took actual pleasure in unpleasant situations, “infirmities, necessities, distresses, persecutions,” because “when I am weak then am I strong.”
In other words, all our awkward situations and our normal negative reactions to them–dislike, fear, unwillingness, inadequacy, frustration–are the only way we can react as humans. If that is all we are–just humans–then we would be in bad shape, enchained in the prison of our own reactions. But to us who are at home in the fact of our Other Self–the not I, but Christ in me–pressures, trials, temptations are a springboard to faith. We dislike a person, so we take a leap of faith. We move over and say, “I don’t like this person, but You are love in me. You love him, so with Your love, I love him.” Switch on the light, and where is the darkness? So with every kind of negative reaction.
But note, it is not we who are changed. We do not look at ourselves and expect to see a change in ourselves. No, we affirm Him and go forward: the effect on ourselves is not the point. We fear. We affirm His courage in us and go forward. We have doubts. We say, “God is my God. That is settled for me.” We have not got what it takes. We say, “God is my strength,” and do the job. We resent or object to a situation. We say, “God’s ways are perfect. I accept and praise.”
The point is that our negative human reactions are necessary to God. The positive must have its negative for its manifestation. We do not, therefore, blame or condemn ourselves because we are the have-nots, and guiltily feel we are wrong to react as we do. We are what we are, and what we are meant to be. We may well laugh at ourselves, but not throw ourselves out with disgust. We are not God’s liabilities, we are God’s assets.
The secret is always replacement. We don’t work hard at pushing darkness out of a room. We turn our backs on the darkness and switch on the light–where is the darkness? We transfer our attention from the negative to the positive. That is the secret. Not resistance, but replacement.
Let us have it clear: our humanity is for the manifestation of Deity. For this to be possible, we humans are to be involved in the whole of human existence. Personal involvement in any situation generates personal reactions. I participate, I feel, I react. I am now an aroused human in that situation. But my responses are negative. I have not the courage, the ability, the love, the wisdom, the answers. I am disturbed by frustrations, opposing personalities, wrong-doing, misfortune. This is exactly as it should be. Now I am a conditioned human–conditioned for the leaps of faith. What I am not, God is: and God is not at a distance, we are joined–one spirit. He is my Other Self.
So I move over in my inner center from my personal reactions to affirming Him, recognizing Him for what He is for every situation; and then I go forward right in the situation, just the same human in myself to all appearances, but actually it is God on the scene, God working, God manifested, God glorified.