And It Came to Pass

 

In George Foreman’s book, God In My Corner-A Spiritual Memoir, there is a section called, Storms Don’t Last. He tells a brief story I will share with you now.

Someone once asked an elderly woman her favorite Scripture verse. She replied, “And it came to pass.”

“And it came to pass? But that doesn’t mean anything.”

“Yes it does,” she answered. “I know that whenever a trial comes, it doesn’t come to stay; it comes -- to pass. It’s not going to be around forever.”

Now it may be true that her understanding of, “It came to pass,” is a bit odd. But, I must say the lady was on to a Bible truth anyway!

 

By the way, “And it came to pass” occurs 396 times in the King James Bible! (Or 453 time if you drop the “And.”) The phrase actually means something like, “It happened.” Still this woman knew what she was talking about and she was right. We sometimes express it as, “This too shall pass.” Same thought. Or more roughly, “Nothing last forever” How about this one, “Time heals all wounds.”

 

There is a basic truth here. However, sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. In the midst of a trial it sometimes seems it will last forever, there is no hope, all is lost. Of course, it nearly always changes with time and often we look back and see the trial as a good thing.

 

From personal experience I have seen the loss of a job led to a much better job. A betrayal led to a much better understanding and better friends. Nearly all of my mistakes have made a better man out of me. Those that didn’t should have! Trials are sometimes not brought on by anything we did. The Bible tells us, (Eccl 9:11 NIV) “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” But honestly, we bring on many, perhaps most, of our trials by our actions or failure to act.

 

If you want more and better muscles, then you need to stress them. Without the stress of working our muscles they simply wither away and may leave us crippled. But, if you put those same muscles to work then they become strong and you become more capable of dealing with physical trials. To a point the more you stress your muscles the stronger they become. Other kinds of stress (trials) can do the same for your knowledge, wisdom, and moral character. Without trials we would have very little personal growth. We may not like trials but they are an important part of our lives.

 

(Luke 22:28-32 NIV)  You are those who have stood by me in my trials. {29} And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, {30} so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. {31} "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. {32} But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

And so Jesus, our perfect example, faced severe trials. But they passed. Just as the elderly woman said. He knew as each trial faced Him that, “It came to pass.”

 

Peter faced trials too, but they came to pass, just as Jesus had said they would. Not only did that trial pass but also Peter became a better man because of it! Note however, that was not the last of Peter’s trials. Still Peter knew that as each troubled time came that, “It came to pass.”

 

James also faced trials, as we know. Yet he counseled us to consider trials as joy.

(James 1:1-4 NIV)  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. {2} Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, {3} because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. {4} Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James knew that when a trial or temptation came, “It came to pass.”

 

Paul was a man of many trials. Look at Paul’s life, yet you must concede he knew what he was talking about in, (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Paul knew that when a trial or temptation came, “It came to pass.”

 

Perhaps the most famous man of trials besides Jesus himself is Job. Listen to the help his wife offered. (Job 2:9-10 NIV)  His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" {10} He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” But Job knew that even these trials, “Came to pass.” Here is a response from Job we need to remember. (Job 19:25-27 NIV)  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. {26} And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; {27} I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

So, why shouldn’t we have trials and temptations? Why shouldn’t we find the going rough sometimes? Did Jesus escape trials or temptations? Did Jesus escape all rough times and adversity? Didn’t he actually know it was a going to be tough life He would live? And yet He never shirked at anytime. Why? Because He had faith. He knew what the elderly woman knew, “And it came to pass.”

 

(Luke 16:10 NIV)  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

 

So if we can’t deal with the little trials of day-to-day life do we really think we will do well with the bigger things? We need to use a little common sense and learn from our past and the past of others we see around us. We need to always do what we can in every situation, based on the word of God. There is a time for every purpose under heaven, we are told. There is a time for trials and a time for overcoming trials. One thing is certain, when we encounter a trial we can be sure, “It came to pass.”

 

Some quotations

*   A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man made perfect without trials. Chinese Proverb

*   Great trials seem to be a necessary preparation for great duties. Edward Thomson (1810–1870)

*   A visitor to the shop of a famous potter was puzzled by one operation which seemed to have little purpose.  The workman was beating a lump of clay with a large mallet.  It looked as if nothing was happening, and so the one who was taking the tour finally asked, "Sir, why are you doing that?"  "Just wait and watch the results; then you'll understand," was the reply.  He heeded the advice and soon noted that the top of the mass began to quiver and swell as little bumps formed on its surface.  "Now you can see the need for the pounding," said the man.  "I could never shape the clay into a worthwhile vessel if these bubbles remained in it, so I must gradually work them out." The one watching was a Christian and immediately recalled the 18th chapter of Jeremiah.  He saw more clearly than ever before why the great Potter must work upon our souls.  The discipline of chastening and the trials God sends are necessary to eliminate pride and self-will.  This is the only way the Master can form us into beautiful vessels capable of holding the treasures of His grace.

(Jer 18:6 NIV)  "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

 

*   May you have:

Enough happiness to keep you sweet.

Enough trials to keep you strong.

Enough sorrow to keep you human.

Enough hope to keep you happy.

Enough failure to keep you humble.

Enough success to keep you eager.

Enough friends to give you comfort.

Enough wealth to meet your needs.

Enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow.

Enough determination to make each day better than the day before.

 

(1 Pet 5:7-10 RSV)  Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. {8} Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. {9} Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. {10} And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you.

 

And it will come to pass!