Lately I’ve been saturated with the gospel. I’m co-teaching a class on the Gospel Centered Life, my small group is studying the Anatomy of a Disciple, I’m working through a devotional on the New Morning Mercies of the gospel and a book called the Gospel Primer, and as a church we’re going through the magna carta of the gospel every Sunday in Galatians. I love the gospel; I love the theme of redemption and restoration threaded throughout Scripture reminding me of my unworthiness and God’s lavish grace. It is my hope and foundation. But is it enough to be saturated with the gospel?
A sponge can take in water by sitting in a bowl, but water better penetrates it when it is squeezed. I want to grow by positive experiences: listening to a sermon, reading the Word, talking with other believers. Unfortunately we can easily be saturated with the truth without it reaching our hearts. James 1:2-4 reminds us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The path to maturity–becoming perfect or complete in Christ (Ephesians 4:13)–happens best through trial, struggle, and suffering. I don’t enjoy or look forward to that! However, we should view the difficulties in our lives as a means of squeezing us, by which God can reach our hearts (Romans 5:1-5).
Lent began last week, and while I’ve entertained a fascination with the fasting and practices surrounding Lent, I’ve been hesitant to observe Lent personally. I prefer the celebration of Easter to the reflective and sacrificial season of Lent. But perhaps the gospel is present in the Lenten season, culminating in Easter, in a way uniquely illustrating how God works in us to accomplish our growth in Christ. While the popular focus is on what people give up for Lent, could we simply let it be a reminder that being squeezed (or even crushed) by suffering is not outside God’s reach or care?
How are you being squeezed? How may God be using your struggle to help you grow in Christ?