Read the Directions: Shake Well Before Using

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV)

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NRSV)

If you have ever used Italian dressing or tried to drink those canned protein shakes, you have probably read the words, “Shake well before using” or something similar.  These are important words.  Italian dressing is not appetizing if it isn’t blended well.  It either makes your salad over-seasoned or soggy with oil.  When we are directed to “Shake well,” we are preparing something to be fit for use.  It seems to me that the human heart and mind have the same directions included.

God needs to shake us well, to bring us through trial and tumult, so that we are prepared for the proper time and place.  When God shakes us up, things begin to blend together; our spiritual life is no longer separated out as something distinct from our life at work and with friends.  When God brings us through “trials of any kind” we have the opportunity to grow and build spiritual muscles that we would not otherwise be able to develop.

The difficulty for us is to be willing to stay in the trial.  Our fallen inclination when we face trials is to find a way out instead of a way through.  Phillips Brooks, the great 19th century preacher once said, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.” In other words, we need to seek God’s help in facing our trials, in being shaken, so that we can make it through to the finish.

Jesus was clear that we would have trouble in this life; Paul consoled us that God would use everything that happened for the benefit of His children; James wants us to live in that reality; David helps us cry out to God to make us fit for the trials.  God allows us to be shaken by the trials of this life while also providing all we need to meet them with courage and hope.

Lord let me be shaken by You, in Your time for Your purpose. Help me to stay in the midst of the trial for as long as it takes to prepare me for Your work. Amen.