Questions & Answers
Q: I’ve been asking God for patience. Recently, a situation came up that really irritated me and afterwards I realized I was anything but patient. Why didn’t God give me patience?
A: The problem is that you have an illusory idea that what you need is to become something better, i.e. more patient, rather than to recognize that if you are a Christian, you already contain the One who is patience. That One is Jesus Christ. We know this from I John 4:8, "…God is love" and I Cor. 13:4, which explains that "love is patient, love is kind."
We see then that God does not parcel out attributes of His nature. He simply gives us Himself and through salvation we receive Jesus Christ who is patience. This transfers our attention from improving ourselves to seeing ourselves as just the vessel. II Cor. 4:7 says, "we have this treasure in jars of clay to show us that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." We are the means by which He can be Himself in a human vessel. The critical part is to realize that though we one are powerless to be patient, Christ’s Spirit, who is all powerful, is the patience within us. Our only job is to agree with that fact and accept its reality.
Q: Recently my family pulled up roots and relocated to another state. I am trying to make all the adjustments with school, work, making new friends, etc. When I get discouraged, my parents tell me that God meant this move for each family member’s best, but somehow all I know is that I feel miserable and unhappy. I find myself questioning God and skeptical about how all of this will affect me. If God is supposedly "working it all to good," then why do I feel so bad?
A: The scripture you are referring to is Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" God always deals with us in the form of a contract, specifying exactly what He expects from us. When He gives us a promise, He includes the proviso stating what He expects from us in return. In this case, the terms of the agreement are our love for Him. That love would also include our trust in Him despite appearances, coupled with complete willingness to be used however necessary to fulfill His plan.
He alone has the advantage of knowing clearly the bigger picture of how each situation will affect all those involved. It may be necessary for you to redefine the word "good." Satan would have us believe that good is what is pleasurable and rewarding to us. Such worldly phrases as "if it feels good, do it," "you owe it to yourself," "you deserve a break today" exemplify Satan’s self-for-self theme. God’s goodness is reflected in His unmistakable love and mercy towards us. His fixed choice is to be total outpoured love for us, yet that is shown in many ways not always immediately seen as loving or kind.
The Bible is full of examples of people who loved God and were faithful to His plan, but looked ridiculous in the eyes of the world and struggled along the way. Think of the good that came out of Noah’s willingness to trust God in the face of His challenge to build an ark and assemble its passengers. And what about the example of Jesus Christ Himself? God sent his own Son to die a torturous death in order that immeasurable good would come to all future generations. I doubt that either experienced much personal comfort as they walked out in faithful obedience to God’s plan for them.
In situations like what you are experiencing, it is often helpful to restate our complete trust and faith in God and look for the positives in the situation and express our gratefulness to God and others. Everything we experience has the potential for good in our lives and the lives of others through faith in Christ.
Our opportunity for faith is to see every situation in our lives as God coming to us perfectly in love and for our very best. Paul says, "rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4), "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:13).
Remember that each challenge is purposed by God for our best and is essential as a part of our experience. Perhaps James said it best with his encouragement to "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).
Q: How can I really know that I am Christ in my form?
A: You may well ask yourself how you know your sins are forgiven, or how you know if you are saved, or how you know if you are born again. The answer is basically the same for all these questions. You begin by choosing to believe what God says is true. Instead of looking at your circumstances or how you feel, you look at God’s word. If you have fulfilled the biblical requirements for salvation – confessed Jesus as the Son of God and your Savior, admitted you deserved death for your sins, repented and asked God to forgive you because the blood of his Son, Jesus, was shed to pay the price for your sins- then God’s Word says you are a new creation, a child of God, and have eternal life.
Romans 8:16 says, "the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children." So it is God Himself who makes our new nature real to us. And what is that new nature? Gal. 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." What we see in this verse is that the old me (joined to Satan) is dead, and the new me is Christ living as me. Because this is what God’s Word says about me, I know it is true even if it is at first hard to grasp. Shall I trust my own limited understanding and call God a liar? Or shall I trust God who made everything and knows everything from the beginning to the end?
1 John 4:17 says, "…as He is, so are we in this world." That is the truth. And as I dare to believe God, I will begin to live as if what He has done in me is true. My choices will reflect what I believe. The way I feel and think matters little; what matters is choosing to do the next thing God asks of me. As we take God at His word, He takes us, and He is able to do through us what we were never able to do before.
With all of us, there are times of honest questioning when God is challenging us to grow in a new area of understanding. But when we use doubt as a reason not to believe, the reality of who we are begins to dim because we are giving room for sin. So we move on boldly in faith.
But after we’ve made our stand of faith (based on the Scriptures) that we are Christ in our form, we take our hands off. The Spirit will confirm in us the fact of who we are, but He will do it in His time. Our job is simply to walk in the believing of the fact. As Norman writes in Yes, I Am, "So what you do is to keep firmly affirming that you are what you have now said you are by faith. Your job is to maintain the affirmation. The confirmation comes from Him, and any trying or searching of your own will only insert a fog of unbelief which hinders the Spirit from giving the confirmation" (p.110).
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 6
- Here We Stand
- Out of the Whirlwind
- Editor’s Note
- Minnesota Fellowship Weekend
- The Letter to the Romans
- Moving Out of the Wilderness
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- British Autumn Conference
- A Look at a Book
- The Mailbox
- God’s Promises
- To Think About
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Tape Talk
- Moments with Meryl
- Questions & Answers
- Which Side?
- Words to Live By