Surviving Isn’t Enough

At the testing of the thorn, divine grace turns my pain and tears to peace and joy.

I remember a bitter cold night in Missouri when I threw a cup of boiling water into the -20 degree air and saw it instantly turn to snow. The immediate transformation was amazing! The testing of the thorn produces a similar effect in us … something new and remarkable created from the ordinary and plain. Just as with the boiling water and frigid air so too must the conditions be right for the transforming work of grace. We must have a desperate need and a surrendered heart.

Time after time I have seen God transform my unbelief into fervent faith the very moment after thinking I could trust him no further. I don’t know how it happens but one minute I am filled with anger or fear or hopelessness and the next, perfect peace and hope come flooding in. Our faith only becomes real when it is tested and this is why our thorns are so important.

Regardless how terrible the testing of the thorn, we inevitably extend our suffering if we only set our sights on survival. No, there is much more at stake than just the preservation of our well-being; it is the healing and restoration of our souls that God is after. It is an invitation to surrender ourselves to God so that he can transform what has been broken.

Let’s not miss the invitation—God wants to transform our broken dreams to restored hope but he can only redeem what has actually been surrendered. If we want God to transform something, we must actually give it to him. If we do not give God our pain, anger, and hopelessness there is nothing for him to change into peace, joy, and hope. A heart fixated on survival simply cannot see the transforming power of surrender. So, though survival may be what we crave, we must still set our sights even higher.

Please don’t misunderstand. Condemnation is not the intention. Rarely does anyone have the desire or strength needed to rise above surviving their thorns while in the midst of the testing. Neither does God expect the same from us either; we just have to be honest with our brokenness and continue surrendering what needs to be transformed. In doing so, we create space for the miraculous … where God “turns [our] pain and tears to peace and joy.” We must give him all that we are and all that we do not have so that he can make us into all we are not and finally have all that we need. Next week we post our third animated poem as we continue discussing the topic of spiritual brokenness.

 


What Do You Think?

Have you ever truly poured out your heart to God? If so, what happened when you did? What would be your biggest obstacle in choosing—right now— transformation over survival?


 

♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.

 

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Author: David Trementozzi

David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary theological relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. To learn more about David, go to the About David page above.