I am married to a mechanical engineer– a preventive maintenance specialist who assesses the health of motor engines, ancillary systems, and production lines. It’s all about the process. One of my counselees is oh so pregnant, facing the unknown life changes that come with motherhood. Another dear friend struggles to show Jesus’ love in the midst of a combative relationship, while one more scrubs the scab off wildly painful wounds of childhood, opening them to the saving power of Christ’s sacrificial love. That’s all about the process too.
The concept of process is deeply embedded in our lives. Nothing good comes easy, and, to be honest, nothing goes the way we think it should. Growth is gradual and sequential. Often the process of life seems like a slow moving train. We pray we are headed in the right direction and struggle with the frustration of unexpected stops along the way. Nothing in our capabilities gives us speed. We plod through the process.
Job is an excellent study in this kind of place. In the first chapter of Job, we learn he is process-oriented. When his seven sons and three daughters had a celebratory feast, Job would get up early the morning after and make a burnt offering to God for each of them. Scripture records the motive behind Job’s actions; “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5, NLT).
Weeks later, after Job has endured the cataclysmic loss of his children, livestock, crops, servants, and health, he is haunted by the brokenness of the process. Suffering, as a righteous man, is not what Job or any of his vocal friends expected. Job is caught in a process that does not fit. It does not make sense.
Paul and Timothy, in their quest to share the good news of Jesus Christ, endure a similar process; “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it…we expected to die” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Asia was not the fertile soil they thought it would be. Things didn't turn out the way they planned.
So much about traveling the road of sanctification, of learning to depend on Christ and become like him, is about process. In the middle of Job’s mess, he points out a key to surviving painful experiences. Sitting on the scrap heap, unhappy with who he is, Job remembers who God is; “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” (Job 19:25-26). One way to grow through pain is to acknowledge God’s living presence and sovereignty.
Paul highlights another key to growing on a painful path when he summarizes the lessons he and Timothy learned in Asia; “But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” (2 Cor. 1:9-10). There is much to be gained through a hard process if we learn to see it as an avenue to deeper faith.
Faith is grown through engaging the tough processes of life, turning them over to our Savior along the way. The simple definition of faith found in Hebrews 11 helps. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that faith is believing that God exists, that he is who he says he is, and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Holding that beautiful truth helps us walk through the pain, frustration, and plodding that travels with the process of life in a broken world. We will often have to wait for the train to slowly move on. We won’t ever have to wait alone.
Fieldstone Counseling serves all who seek lasting hope for life’s hardships. Generous donors fund counseling scholarships. These scholarships enable those in need to begin the process of experiencing biblically-based, Christ-centered, clinically informed care. Would you consider supporting our ministry through a financial gift today? All donations to Fieldstone support our ministry of hope and are completely tax-deductible.
Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.