By Maria Fontaine
As Christians, we aren’t exempted from the difficulties of this life, even if some think we should be. If we have the expectation that our faith should shield us from problems, struggles, and suffering, this can lead to somewhat of a martyr complex when things go wrong, until we start to wonder, How could anyone possibly have it more difficult than I do?
If you feel like that, it might help to look around at what others, believers and nonbelievers alike, have to endure. You may find some who seem better off physically than you at the moment, but a lot of people are also so much worse off in ways that are very important, such as lacking the bare necessities of life.
Even though Christians face similar physical struggles to others and have lots of problems, at least we can usually understand from God’s Word that there’s a good reason for them, a divine purpose at work behind it all. Even when we can’t see any immediate good coming from our trials, they have the potential to teach us lessons and make us stronger. That alone makes them easier to bear.
Some people struggle for years with afflictions, or under a difficult employer, or at a job they hate. Others, both Christian and non-Christian, are ridiculed and criticized and rejected by others, or even openly persecuted for what they stand for. As Christians, we can often understand the ways that even our hardships serve to help us, but nonbelievers don’t have the comfort of a Savior who can help them make sense of what they suffer through. We may have a lot of difficulties, but our lives would probably seem comparatively easy to so many who face life without the sense of purpose that our faith provides.
We learn and grow from our troubles. Our struggles teach us how to have more patience, how to hold on, how to cling to God’s promises and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!” (2 Timothy 2:3)—not just for one day or one week or one month, but perhaps for many months or years at a time.
The Bible tells us, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing.” (James 1:12 NLT) “Patient endurance is what you need now [when troubles are surrounding you], so that you can continue to do God’s will.” (Hebrews 10:36 NLT)
Paul went so far as to tell us to “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3–4)
We may sometimes have extended periods when we’re not able to go on our feelings at all because things are going badly and we’re feeling pretty rotten, but that’s when we have to cling to the facts of God’s Word, that He still loves and still cares, no matter what we feel like. Even when absolutely everything seems to have turned against us or be going wrong, we can trust that good will triumph in the end, and Jesus will be victorious.
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God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
—1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
If We Could See Beyond Today
If we could see beyond today
As God can see;
If all the clouds should roll away,
The shadows flee;
O’er present griefs we would not fret.
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet
For you and me.
If we could know beyond today
As God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away
And tears must flow;
We’d know that darkness leads to light,
And dreary days will soon grow bright.
Some day life’s wrongs will be made right.
Faith tells us so.
If we could see, if we could know,
We often say,
But God, in love, a veil doth throw
Across our way.
We cannot see what lies before
And so we cling to Him the more,
He leads us till this life is o’er.
Trust and obey.
—Norman J. Clayton (1903–1992)
He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed, ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father, both thee and thy load, will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
—Annie Johnson Flint (1866–1932)
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