Wow. God really knows how to test me. Truth is applied to life in the oddest ways, but always for our benefit. For example, as I have read the book of James this past few weeks, God has impressed upon me a new way to look at trials. It's really a simple thing, and I'm not completely certain about some of the details, but my new doctrine was definitely tested tonight.
In James 1, it says that every good and perfect gift is from above. It also says that we aren't to say that it is God who tempts us to sin, but rather, our flesh luring us away from the truth. Traditional Dualism pits good against evil, God against the devil, in every situation. A sort of cosmic battle. I don't think this could be farther from the truth. Surely, there is a battle, but our God is in control of every little detail, not just the things that we traditionally want to give thanks for (a healthy baby, new job, car, wife, $$, etc...). I think we have a skewed sense of pleasure and pain.
We associate pleasure with things that give us certain physical or emotional sensations and pain with opposing sensations. I think this is very wrong. Why are we so quick to trust our flesh over God and His promises. God desires us to experience true pleasure no matter what He sends our way. Like tonight, when I was getting ready to round third base and head for home and I suddenly pulled up lame. Most people would say "pulled hamstring=pain." Physically, yes. My neurons were firing pain signals to keep me from continuing. But spiritually, I had to praise God for giving me this seemingly unpleasurable experience, knowing that it was a good and perfect gift from above. It was the only and best thing that God could have possibly given me at that time, otherwise, he would not have given it. I don't just think the things my flesh tells me are pleasurable are good gifts from God. Now, I think everything, no matter what my body or emotions say, is a perfect gift from God, and try to not let my flesh lure me into temptation and death. It was C.S. Lewis who said it is not that we are too focused on pleasure through sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but that we are too easily pleased (paraphrase). So, I think we are too quick to rob God of His due for giving us not only the gifts that feel good, but also the gifts that we need to really grow, but don't feel good.
It's like at Christmas time--we want to say God gave us the Xbox and not the underwear.