We all know the cliché: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Right? This implies, if we have enough moxie, we can endure anything just by being tough.
Well, there’s a reason hardships are called that—they’re hard.
God doesn’t allow trials in your life to determine your mettle—He already knows. Trials show you what you’re made of and strengthen you as a Christian.
A building inspector goes over new construction step-by-step, to uncover deficiencies or weaknesses that could jeopardize the entire structure. In the same way, our weakness of spirit needs to be exposed in order for us to become stronger.
The oft-quoted Bible verse, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13) shows us that God doesn’t expect us to walk alone in trials, but this verse is validated only by suffering hardships.
You might shake your head and say, “But I’m already a strong follower of His. My faith is solid. I’m compassionate. Why should I have to suffer?”
The apostle Paul had a few things to say about this.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea … I have labored and toiled … I have known hunger and thirst … I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches … If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:24-30
Most Christians look to Paul as a standard bearer. If we are to grow to his level of commitment, the commitment first has to be tested. He didn’t develop strong faith outside of being shown his weaknesses.
James took the concept a step further. He said, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Not only do we develop perseverance, we become blessed through the trials.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trials, because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
In turn, we’re able to bless others because of our trials. Take comfort in the knowledge that God knows the trials that lie ahead. He’s waiting in our tomorrows, ready to strengthen our spirit, our faith, and our mettle, and to bless us with the joy whose depth only comes from suffering first.
How can we consider trials pure joy? How do we persevere? Trials are exactly what they sound like—something to be avoided.
Instead, I challenge you to:
Count your blessings. It seems elementary, almost too simple—and at the same time difficult—to do in the midst of a storm. But even finding one or two small things to thank God for will drastically change your perspective and ability to persevere.
Find a Christian friend or family member to share your rough times—someone who will listen and pray for you, perhaps even offering practical advice when asked. Part of the reason God doesn’t shield Christians from hardships is to force us to grow together and carry one another’s burdens. Trying to be self-sufficient in this fallen world not only leads you away from other Christians, but from God. Often God puts someone in our path who has struggled with the same issues.
How can I pray for you today? Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I'd love to hear from you. J
This post is a selection from my new devotional, While I’m Waiting, available for 99 cents on Amazon.com.
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“Hard Times Ahead Means Risky Sign And Warning” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“Difficult Sphere Means Hard Challenging Or Problematic” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.