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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

What Buying A Refrigerator Taught Me About Trials

Refrigerator from Wikepedia in the public domain

Buying A Refrigerator  

Our 24-year old refrigerator is dying.  The ice cream in the freezer melts, the lettuce in the produce bin freezes — you get the picture.

We’ve tried everything, but it’s clearly time to say good-bye.

My wife found an ad for a decent refrigerator at Sears — at half price.  So Tuesday night we checked it out.

It looked good.  It fit the space in our kitchen.  The doors opened in the right direction.  And it was on sale until Saturday.  So we decided to go home, Google some reviews, and make a final decision.

Sold Out

But the week was busy.  Wednesday was full of meetings.  Thursday was impossible.  But Thursday night I did have time to check the reviews, and they looked great.

So first thing Friday morning my wife went back to Sears to finalize the purchase.  But 30 minutes later she texted me — “Fridge all sold out, even the floor model.”

Aargh!  

I know, I know — this is a pretty small trial.  But I hate shopping.  I didn’t want to go through this all over again.

I had visions of my eyes glazing over while listening to refrigerator salesmen and having to end up spending a bunch more money, when all this could have been avoided if there would have just been ONE MORE REFRIGERATOR AVAILABLE!

So I was frustrated.  Grumbling.  Sinking fast.

Not Trusting God

But then, by God’s grace, I saw what was going on.  I’m not trusting God.  I’m not seeing God.  I’m not even thinking about God.

And I could tell — I needed to fight the fight of faith.

So I turned to God, and asked for help.  I confessed my unbelief, and asked for forgiveness through Christ.  And I was assured of God’s forgiveness, and knew help was coming.

Then, to fight my unbelief and strengthen my faith, I thought I’d remind myself what God promises about trials.

So I started with —

God Is Sovereign Over Trials

A young man in our home group has found much strength in Ephesians 1:11 —

[God] works all things according to the counsel of his will.

Note the words “all things.”  Which means everything.  Everything that happens is ultimately purposed by God’s will.

Even trials?  Even trials.  That’s what Job said after his trials —

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)

So I reminded myself that the perfectly loving and infinitely wise God chose to have all those refrigerators be sold out.

But then I asked — Why?  Why would he choose to do that?

And I remembered this promise —

Those Who Seek The Lord Lack No Good Thing

That’s from Psalm 34:10 —

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

So what does that mean?  This is where I needed to dig deeper.

Because I could cheer myself up by thinking this means God will give us a better refrigerator than the one that was sold out.  And of course, God could do that.  And we can pray that he would do that.

But nowhere in the Bible does God promise to do that.  Nowhere does God promise ever-improving circumstances in this life.

So what does God mean when he promises that I will lack no good thing?  What helped me was to remember Psalm 73:28 — “for me it is good to be near God.”

My highest good is not convenient shopping or an amazing deal on a refrigerator.  My highest good is experiencing God’s nearness.  Fellowship with God, beholding God, worshiping God — that is my greatest, most satisfying good (see Psalm 73:25).

Since God is my greatest good, anything is good if it brings me more of God.

And that’s how sold-out refrigerators could mean I lacked no good thing.  It’s because God’s purpose was to use that trial to bring me more joy in him.

Not Automatic

But that joy doesn’t happen automatically.  It happens as we submit our will, our wisdom, and our plans to the Lord and seek our joy in him alone.

So I asked him to help me do that.  And I prayed something like this —

Forgive me for grumbling, Father.  Forgive me for thinking I know better.  You are infinitely wiser than me.  I trust that you had these refrigerators be sold out in order to bring me the greatest good of more nearness with you.  So — thank you.

I turn from the joys of having more time, the joys of spending less money, the joys of a sweet half-off refrigerator — and I seek my joy in you alone.  You are my all-satisfying Treasure.

And — I pray that you would bring us an even better refrigerator — quickly — and without it taking much time.

I wasn’t doing cartwheels yet.  But I was at peace.  My faith was strengthened.  I was content — in him.

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(Picture is from Wikepedia and is in the public domain.)

Category: Problems or Trials

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7 Responses

  1. Alby says:

    Surely, God uses the unexpected loses/things to bring us close to him. I experienced this working of God the past week.
    Yet, truly this was an eye-opener for me in dealing with murmuring and sinning at such times!
    GOD BLESS YOU Pastor Steve!

  2. Jason Belk says:

    Amen, thank you for sharing a tangible example of how to fight the fight of faith! Here in suburban America it is easy to write off trials as something only missionaries in third world countries encounter. Granted, our trials are no where close to the magnitude of what global Christians face daily. Yet, I think your words above help bring to light that even the small disappointments in life show that we are trusting in something else OTHER than Jesus (money/saving/being productive etc), and need to repent, trust in Jesus and be closer to God.

    We are not opted out of repentance and faith just because the issues we face are not life and death. If anything it takes us a different kind of effort (I won’t say more or less) to identify our heart straying from trusting in Christ.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good thoughts, Jason. You are right that we can easily think smaller trials have no spiritual relevance. But I find they also show me what idols I’m tempted to trust.

      Onward, brother!

      Steve

  3. Bill Schuler says:

    Hi Steve, I have a question. Is it possible that God had nothing to do with the fact that the refrigerators were sold out? If you had gone there earlier would you would have gotten one? I am not convinced that God is micro managing my life, because if so, I think it would be a much better one. Have you found overwhelming evidence in scripture that convinces you otherwise?
    Thanks again for the example of praying over promises! 🙂

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Bill,

      Your comments always deal with such important questions — thank you.

      I see overwhelming evidence that God micromanages every detail of the entire universe, which includes our lives.

      I believe that’s an implication of Eph 1:11 — he works all things according to the counsel of his will. I see no reason not to take that “all things” as describing every actual thing.

      I also see it in James 5:15 — “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'” So it’s not just whether I live or die, it’s also whether I do this or that (sounds like everyday decisions) that is under God’s sovereign will.

      I’m also struck by how Joseph’s brothers sinful actions against him were “meant” by God (Genesis 50:20), and how every disaster that comes to any city is ultimately done by the Lord (Amos 3:6).

      And there’s lots more teaching the same truth. This does raise lots of questions about how our genuine (not robotic) choices fit with God’s sovereignty. But I see both genuine choice and God’s sovereignty taught all through the Bible.

      Love you, brother,

      Steve

  4. Caleb says:

    Hey Steve,

    It seems that God’s timing is, yet again, perfect.

    I was just hit with a trial the other day that was (and still is) testing my faith and is emotionally taxing. But I KNOW without a doubt that God put this trial in my way to not only test my faith, but to keep me from straying too far, and to come closer to Him.

    What amazes me is how gently He corrected me and how much worse it would have been if I would have had to learn this lesson by trial and error. Praise God for this!

    Thank you Steve for posting this; God led me right to it and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

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