“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Paul says this to remind us that what is truly valuable is eternal, and what is eternal is obtained by seeking Christ, His gospel, and His service. This is a truth that Christians are constantly trying to work out in their daily lives. The catch is that while we say that we seek for what is of eternal value, it can be difficult to know whether we truly are storing up treasure in heaven, or if our faith is fair-weather.
I’ve recently been enduring a bit of a trial. I hate to call it a trial: I’ve been been a candidate for a very special job opportunity that has featured extensive planning, preparation, a lot of waiting and several unexpected turns. During the process the opportunity has seemed to slipping away several times, even after apparent victory.
This has given me the chance, by God’s wisdom, to really consider what it was that I’m after. I’ve had the chance to evaluate my affections through the possibility of loss. What I’ve learned is this: Your treasures are revealed by how you react when you lose them.
Trials offer us the chance to inspect our hearts because God strips away earthly treasures in order to focus us on heavenly treasures. Our response to loss reveals what we value.
Speaking of the trials of believers likely under persecution, Peter says this:
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ… ” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Earthquakes send us scrambling for door frames and away from windows. Hurricanes send us fleeing in our cars or find us holed up in our basements. When floods come we seek for the highest ground. Disaster and trial wipe away pretense and force us to make decisions about what will save us.
James, in his epistle echoes this thought, saying that God uses trials to perfect us (James 1:3). Every Christian would affirm this, but why? Because trials strip us of what is perishing and replaces it with what lasts forever. Paul elucidates:
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul reminds us that all of our affections are to be centered on Christ. Personally, this trial has reminded that no earthly circumstances can alter my fundamental goal which is to obtain the surpassing treasure of knowing Him, and seeing my family obtain the same. I know that God can achieve this in my through any variety of channels and I have to remind myself of this when it looks like He might change the channel.
The great thing about this is that no matter what channel God tunes my life to, Christ is the star. Pray that God can help us to see the brilliance of His intentions at every turn, always understanding that loss for the sake of knowing Christ is our eternal gain.
My trial was certainly a light affliction, but the prospect of losing the object of my prayers was cause to ask what I was really praying for. When all seemed lost I was at peace because God