Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- 1 Kings 19:11-12

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

COMMENTARY

But the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire
When one endeavors to try to become something better, they may be surprised that the Lord does not bless their efforts immediately. In fact, often it is Satan who comes to us first.
I have had my own journey through addiction recovery, at the beginning of which I was excited to finally meet the healthier, worthier me. I was shocked, then, when I instead met a very different version of myself: one that was extremely pessimistic and cruel. This version assured me that I would never get any better, that deep down I didn’t even want to get better, that soon I would fail, and that recovery would never work because I just happen to be fundamentally flawed to my core.
This voice was one that raged, too. One might say it came in like a great wind, or an earthquake, or maybe a fire…but the Lord was not in these furies at all. After that harsher version of me passed, another identity came. A still, small one that rang truer and far more hopeful. The one I had been waiting for.
I feel I have very good company in this pattern that I lived. Jonah tried to run before he eventually carried out his mission to Nineveh, Peter sunk into the water the first time he tried to walk on it, Zacharias doubted his son’s birth but later defended that boy, Moses doubted his abilities before leading Israel to freedom. It seems most all of us have the self of doubt before the self of faith.
The problem is when people meet that first doubting self and then assume that that is all there is. They may start to believe that some people have a good core, and others an evil, and there’s just nothing you can do about that. The truth is everyone has both identities, and the test is simply whether we will hold out long enough for the good to make itself known.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- Exodus 32:1, Deuteronomy 8:2, Ecclesiastes 8:11

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

COMMENTARY

When the people saw that Moses delayed…[they] said…Up, make us gods
The LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart
After the Israelites were led out of Egypt they struggled to maintain faith in God’s ability to protect and provide. At a time where patience was required, they instead sought the immediate gratification of a new god. Eventually they were given a test of forty years, and from the passage above we learn the purpose of it was prove whether they would remain faithful for a period so long.
Where many of us fall from our faith is during the waiting, because frankly most of us initially only do good for the hope of receiving a reward. If there is a delay on that reward, though, our true motivations eventually reveal themselves.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Similarly, many of us initially avoid evil only for the fear of receiving a punishment. If there is a delay on that punishment, though, our true desires eventually reveal themselves as well.
We are wheat and tares, indistinguishable in our infancy and still deciding what we are ultimately going to be. We are trying to learn how to do good things simply because they are good, never mind if we receive a reward right away. And we are trying to learn how to avoid evil things simply because they are evil, never mind if we feel their consequences right away.
If every good and evil act showed their consequences immediately, then we would never define our core selves, we would become dumb creatures of habit. It is only in the waiting that the core self is revealed.

A word of caution: some have interpreted passages like these to suggest that some of us have an evil core self and others a good core self. I want to take a moment to refute that notion entirely. All of us are good at our core. Tomorrow I’ll explain why this misconception arises, and why it is a misconception.