In my younger years, I had the opportunity to sail with the merchant navy; and as a fresh cadet officer, I recall the Chief Officer giving me this memorable piece of advice: “If you want to learn how to be a mariner, you will not learn it on a calm sea.” It’s a fairly accurate depiction of the life of a disciple of Christ.
Everyday is filled with opportunities to learn the skills of living a godly life. Every day is different, but every day has what we would call good things and bad things.
In my navy days, there were many rough days at sea; either navigating through stormy weather, doing preparatory work prior to arriving at port and the never-ending tasks of repair and maintenance. There was never a day where something did not go right. My human response was often one of frustration. However, looking back -- every day was a good day. God’s hand was in the myriad events, detours, responsibilities, and re-work.
Events that frustrate our preferences offer opportunities to learn that God is in control even if we are seemingly not. Not embracing these opportunities succumb us to be blind to the fact that God is forming and re-forming us; where we submit the clay of our lives to be moulded by the master potter. Like the cadet in training on a voyage, as disciples, we are in training while on a pilgrimage with our Master.
We need some hard times to prepare us for what is yet to come.
Let’s put this into perspective. James says:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Perseverance means to carry on despite trials and tribulation.
Peter instructs us:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13)
That puts things in proper perspective.