I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Have you ever tripped in public? I remember the first time that happened to me. I was in high school. I had my first boyfriend. I was wearing the new pink sweater and cross and chain I got for Christmas, and then I was falling...falling...falling. I'm sure it was a fraction of a second in real time, but in emotional time, that trip and fall was about a month long. It felt like I just kept falling and grasping at something to keep me up, and stumbling and frantically hoping that balance would return to me and all would be well...and that I wouldn't be embarrassed in front of the vultures and hyenas (also known as high school students) that surrounded me.
That interminable fall is kind of what my life has felt like for the past month. It's like everything that can be poked, twisted, messed up, failed, broken, confused, irritated, threatened, tested, shaken and made just plain hard IS. And I just keep falling and grasping and stumbling and frantically hoping that balance and order will return and all will be well again.
In times like this, it is so easy to focus on all the things that are being poked and irritated and tested and hard and pray against those things, but as I read the verses above this morning, I realized that those things are what brings real balance and order. Paul tells us here that it is "by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." It is by having our stuff poked and irritated and tested that we learn to obey, to walk in the will of God, and be set aright.
The very things we think will hurt us are meant to train us to do what is good and acceptable and perfect. Those things are for our building up and protection. The testing, when it is met with discernment by the Spirit and the Word of God, will bring balance and order to any circumstance...no matter how pokey or irritated or shaken it becomes.