By Zach Weik
I was not sorry to say good-bye to January 2016. January, generally speaking, can be a tough month. Between the bitter cold, shortened daylight hours, and poorly performing hometown sports teams (looking at you, Eagles, Flyers, and Sixers), the post-holiday letdown can take its toll on my psyche. This year’s January also culminated with work conflicts, an emotional wedding, deaths of loved ones, and a life-threatening family illness, adding to my doldrums. Sometimes when potential negative situations are playing out in many aspects of our lives, they make us re-examine our faith and theology. Familiar verses can take on new meanings when applied to difficult life experiences. In retrospect, January pointed me towards sanctification.
The New Testament has a lot to say about sanctification. What exactly is sanctification? Simply, sanctification is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3). To sanctify something is to set it apart for special use; and to sanctify a person is to make him holy. For Christians, God’s sanctification process transforms us to be more like Jesus. The further I walk in my faith, the more I realize that sanctification is hard! CS Lewis said that “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” So since we can’t sanctify ourselves by giving good effort, what tools can God use to shape us? Well, He has months like January: seasons when we are forced to look to Him and His plan in order to maintain a godly perspective. Through our faith in His providence and truth, the Spirit is able to do His sanctifying work (2 Thes 2:13). Jesus and Paul both prayed for this sanctification to come to fruition in the lives of believers (John 17:17, I Thes 5:23, I Peter 1:2).
I know I don’t completely understand this sanctification process, and I don’t have to. Nor do I understand God’s reasoning for some of the trials and sufferings, large or small, we endure. I’m still learning how to lament, and I still have trouble finding words in the midst of others’ suffering. But God doesn’t leave us hanging. He is going to complete this sanctifying process (Philippians 1:6). And on that day when Jesus Christ returns in glory, I will no longer be preoccupied with personal finances, blustery blizzards, or even the temporal nature of this life. But until then, hello February.