The Difficulties and Pain of Life
Good and Bad
Life does not exempt anyone from difficulties, trials, situations and negative circumstances as good and bad will happen to all (Ecclesiastes 2:14). We live in a fallen world that is filled with sin, with people who want to live life their way, with no regard for God and fellow humankind. As you walk through life you will meet with many unpleasant and grievous trials, the devil will try you, the world will try you, false brethren will try you and your very own heart will try you. The Psalmist had bad times as well as good ones. They were songs of honesty from the soul, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest’ (Psalm 55:6). Someone once said, “So often in life it is not the actions of others that breaks us but our reaction to the actions of others.”
There are three responses that you can make in the presence of difficulties: you can rebel against it and question God’s sovereignty, resign yourself to it, or you can rejoice in it. God will not save us from getting hurt if pain is part of His purposes for making us better. We must learn through these difficult times to try to understand what God can teach us in through these situations from a biblical perspective. ‘A time for every purpose under heaven’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and ‘In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed one as well as the other’ (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
Troubles – for witnessing
Missionary of twenty years to India, E. Stanley Jones wrote: ‘Jesus promised no escape from trouble to those who became His followers. In fact, He promised an increase of them [see Luke 21]…. What are we to say in regard to these evils that come upon us from without, evils which are not the result of our choosing?
The stoic has the answer: Life is such; steel yourself against it.
Buddhism gives its answer: it is the result of existence, for existence and evil are one; therefore escape existence.
Hinduism answers: It is the result of the deeds of your previous birth; therefore eat the fruit of it.
Islam answers: It is the will of Allah; bear it.
What is the answer of Jesus? It is to be found in the midst of these calamities: “It shall turn unto you for a testimony.” You are to find your finest opportunity for witnessing through these very troubles. In other words, you are not to bear your calamities, you are to use them.’ As did Stephen when he was being stoned – his face shone as that of an angel.
Physical or Emotional
Pain is birthed in two formats – it is either physical or emotional. It has been said that the worst form of pain is emotional as you may look good on the outside but inside you’re hurting real bad, whether it be rejection, deep depression, bereavement, a dashed dream, broken relationship or loneliness etc. Pain can cause two types of reactions, it can make you bitter or it can sweeten and help refine you making you gentler and more compassionate person. The pain that people endure may have come from a wrongdoing or an evil source, but to understand where it is going and how you react to it, is much more important than where it came from. What was meant for your harm can in fact turn out for God’s glory and that is what happened in the life of Job and in the life of Joseph.
The Life of Job
The Bible reveals that ‘time and chance happens to all.’ If we look at the life of Job, he had a raw deal, he lost all his material possessions by ‘natural’ disasters, and robbery. Then his sons and daughters were killed in a huge storm and he lost it all in a day (Job 1:15-19). Yet ‘In all this job did not sin by charging God with wrong’ (Job 1:22). His body was then afflicted with painful sores by the devil himself (Job 2:7). ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ said Job (Job 2:10).
The greatness of a man is determined not by what it takes to get him going – but by what it takes to stop him. Job’s faith was based on his relationship with God, not what he could get from God in the form of material wealth. ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord,’ he said (Job 1:21). What a great attitude to have, Job still loved God despite of his unfortunate situation and was able to say, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ (Job 13:15) and ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25). Job fully trusted God and allowed Him to have His way, however peculiar it may seem or appear and in the end Job was twice as blessed, than at the beginning (Job 42:12-17 and James 5:10-11). This is because adversity is breeding ground for miracles and Satan often attacks those next in line for promotion.
The Life of Joseph
Joseph was the eleventh child of twelve brothers. His brothers sold him as a slave and he ended up in Egypt serving in an official’s household. The wife of the house wanted to sleep with him. As a godly man, he always refused, which greatly annoyed her and one day she cried rape and Joseph was thrown into prison. God had given Joseph the ability to interpret dreams and after several years incarcerated he was summoned to Pharaoh to interpret a dream, which he duly did and was elevated to the second highest position in the land.
Many years later, there was a famine after seven years of plenty and his brothers came to buy food. Eventually Joseph revealed his identity to them and they were fearful of their lives (Genesis chapters 37-50). However, Joseph had come to understand the sovereignty of God, the fact that God is in control of all situations and exclaimed ‘It was not you [my brothers] who sent me here but God’ (Genesis 45:8). ‘God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, to save many lives’ (Genesis 50:20). Joseph after many years was able to say this, (he would have been very hurt about his mistreatment when it happened), but he did not allow bitterness to take root even though it was his brothers who had started the chain of events. In fact, Joseph got them new jobs and new homes in Egypt. The Psalmist said, ‘He sent a man before them – Joseph who was sold as a slave’ (Psalm 105:17). God’s sovereignty is fully revealed in this verse.
Charles Trumbull said, “God knows when to withhold or grant visible signs of encouragement. It is good when He sends confirmation but we grow faster when we have trusted Him without it. Those who do, always receive the greatest evidence of His love.”
Recommended Book: Discipleship For Everyday Living: Christian Growth
Rebel, Resign or Rejoice
There are three responses you can make in the presence of difficulties: you can rebel against it and questions God’s sovereignty, resign yourself to it, or you can rejoice in it. To rebel is wrong. To resign yourself is also wrong as you may accept what you see but be embittered towards it. The third option of rejoicing, is the best, but also the most difficult as it can be exceptionally hard to rejoice when you’re in pain and when your world is falling down around you. The prophet Habakkuk went through all three stages of response and finally came to see that God was in control of the world affairs between Israel and the evil Babylonians. At first, he disbelieved his eyes that an evil nation could be used to punish God’s rebellious people. Few things are more humbling than God using someone whom you know is godless and lacking in character to chasten and refine you! That aggravating and cantankerous work colleague who rubs you up the wrong way may be part of the Divine Sculptor plan to chisel and chip away at those things that are hindering Jesus Christ image from being transformed and revealed in you.
Only under pressure can we see how we would react, and I think that most of us wished that others were unable to see us! Norman Grubb said, “what happens to you is incidental, but how you react is all-important.” ‘My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). ‘Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:31). Is the Lord stirring up your nest so that you might learn to fly, or is He drawing something to your attention to the fact that beneath the surface, things are not the way they should be?
Turning Criticism (or troubles) into Praise to God or Glory unto Him
The Apostle Paul’s pain in writing to the Church at Corinth broke out into paean (a formal expression of praise). Peter and John went up to the temple and having no silver or gold, gave what they had at the lame mans request, and he was healed in Jesus’ mighty name and danced for joy. Their poverty was turned into power and lame man turned his expression into praise!
Jesus turned everything for a testimony. E. Stanley Jones wrote: ‘They bitterly criticised Him for His association with publicans and sinners. He is like them, that is the reason for the association, they said. He immediately turned their criticism into the matchless parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son. He flung back the curtain from the heart of God and showed His self-giving, redemptive Nature – showed it through a criticism. A lawyer stands up ‘to tempt Him’ and Jesus turns the temptation into the parable of the Good Samaritan and raises the ethics to their sublimest heights when He teaches men that they must not pass by on the other side when there is a human need.
‘But at His darkest hour – the hour of the cross – this method of using evils shines brightest. They put Him upon a cross, the place of shame and He make sit the place of glory; they showed sin in its most hideous form and Jesus turns it into a place of healing from sin; here hate was the blackest and here love shines brightest; here man was at his worst and here Jesus is at His best; here reviling is turned into revelation. The cross is the supreme torture of Life and out of it comes a testimony that heals the world.
‘What can you do with a religion like that? It sings at midnight in a Philippian jail and before morning the foundations are laid and a letter will be written to that Church that will bless the world. This is religion turning its impediments into instruments. Its difficulties into doors, its Calvaries into Easter mornings, its troubles into testimonies. It is unconquerable because it has conquered life itself.’
Sin has consequences, if bad things happen because of your own failings then you have brought it upon yourself. This does not mean that for every sin committed, God
will send a thunderbolt from the heavens as God is not vindictive, but a God of love, mercy and justice. But what you sow, you will reap and you should never complain
about what you permit as we all deserve what we tolerate. For example, if you have sex outside of marriage you could get a sexually transmitted disease. If you attack somebody in the street you will face the law courts and could end up in prison. If you continually give a poor performance at work and take fake sick days or unauthorised leave, you could lose your job and end up without an income. If you are suffering the consequences of your sin then go to God; confess your sin and ask for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and change your lifestyle (Proverbs 28:13). He loves you and will forgive you. People fall because of lack of concentration and broken focus. God’s laws are not there to hinder us but to protect others and ourselves.
Humour and a Good Outlook
Modern life confirms God’s diagnosis that negative attitudes can cause serious harm and can even result in death through anxiety, neuroses, mental illnesses, stomach ulcers and even cancers. Therefore, we should always try to look on the brighter side of life. We are not talking about mind over matter or to deny that bad things can and do happen, or to deny that we may feel sad but acknowledge that ‘A merry heart does good, like medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones’ (Proverbs 17:22). Humour often reduces incidences to their proper proportion. God has given individuals a sense of humour to laugh at things and to laugh off things. It is also the release valve from frustration and can help lift a heavy heart. We have to face these problems with a positive outlook. The apostle Paul wrote: ‘Rejoice always, I will say it again rejoice’ (Philippians 4:4). Having a positive outlook and a fuller understanding that God is sovereign and is in control of all things will change your response to the circumstances that will help set you free from many problems. We should ask ourselves “Is my glass half empty or half full?” Be positive, be Christ-like.
Pentecost and suffering
Evangelist, Lionel B. Fletcher wrote: ‘Spirituality makes martyrdom or exile possible to bear, for it takes a Pentecost to fit us to pay the price for following Christ. Some think that Pentecost will mean power without pain, or an easy and effectual life, whereas it means for some spiritual preparation for physical pain and anguish, and heartbreaking service for their Master. Pentecost is not primarily for our glory or enjoyment, it is for Christ’s glory through us, and for the salvation of men through us.’
Fletcher also wrote: ‘We often think suffering is unnecessary and cruel, but is it not a fact that some of us have been brought nearer to Christ in real dependence through sorrow and suffering, than through anything else?’
‘…Sorrow, disaster, suffering, are often God’s angels leading us to cast ourselves upon Christ with an abandon which brings us to Know His power and love, and that knowledge is more to be desired than any other thing in life.’
Sometimes believers will go through a sense of abandonment even though God has promised never to leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). ‘Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?’ (Psalm 10:1). Though God can be hidden, His love for you is unfailing; it never ceases as His mercy is new every morning and great is His faithfulness. It is one thing to know that God has withdrawn His presence because of known and unconfessed sin, but it is quite another to feel that He has withdrawn Himself without any reason for doing so. ‘The Lord tests the righteous…’ (Psalm 11:5a). Maybe it is a test to see if we will really walk by faith and not by sight, holding the candle of faith and not relying on the lighthouse of our feelings whilst still trudging and ploughing through the dark valley of despair.
One of the bitter consequences of living in a world that is fallen is the pain of shattered hopes and plans. You may feel like the psalmist who said ‘…I am shut up, and I cannot get out…why do you hide your face from me?...love ones and friends you have put far from me, and my acquaintances in the darkness’ (Psalm 88:8b, 14b, 18).
Psychologist Kevin Huggins said, “Our response to suffering shapes our character and determines our psychological and spiritual health.”
You may not know what God is doing, or why He has allowed something to happen to you but know, realise and understand that He is a God of Justice, of faithfulness, of holiness, of purity and of power and righteous judgement. It is only when we understand who God is that we will understand what He does, but we must be careful not to interpret God’s character by what we see, but what we see by God’s character. The clearer your understanding of God the clearer your perspective will be, not only in relation to God but in relation to the whole situation you are in.
Sometimes we go through spiritual times of frustration and confusion and although we are big enough to ask the questions “Why God?” we are not always big enough to understand the answer. God will not unfold His plan and purposes to you, if, when He knows that we cannot understand them or are unwilling to do so. Your inability or unwillingness to accept God’s purpose and see things from His point of view preludes you from being informed of them. A preacher once said, “He who asks God for light must not complain if the light scorches at times with its fierce and naked heat, and he who asks for guidance must not be surprised if God points him to paths he would rather not tread.”
Ask God for more grace in times of need. You can pray to be able to see God more clearly, to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly, whilst fully trusting; knowing that the God of all the earth will do that which is right (see Genesis 18:25).
There is a grave danger when disappointments strike that you will lapse into self-pity as self-pity is sin. It is trying to comfort yourself by dwelling on the situation, “I’m not loved,” “It shouldn’t happen to me” etc. You look at yourself as a victim rather than looking to God to help you. Some people use their self-pity as a crutch and delight in telling lots of people the sorrow and woes that they have endured. However, Jesus said to the man at the pool who had been crippled for thirty-eight years, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). Some people enjoy the sympathy or the benefits that they get from their pain and difficulty, whereas they should live for Jesus Christ and be Christ-like.
David Brainerd, missionary to North American Indians in the 1740s wrote in his journal: ‘I have no fellow Christian to whom I might unburden myself, or lay open my spiritual sorrows, with whom I might take sweet counsel in conversation about heavenly things and join in social prayer. My labour is hard and extremely difficult and I have little appearance of success to comfort me…but what makes all my difficulties grievous to be borne is that God hides His face from me.’ More than once, he cried, “I mourned after the presence of God and seemed like a creature banished from His sight.” The Saviour, Jesus knew what it was like to be abandoned and alone in sheer agony whilst on the cross and cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Brainerd went on to see revival in 1745-1746!
Weak and Strong
The Apostle Paul had a hard time, but wrote: ‘When I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul had a demonic thorn in the flesh that plagued him to keep him humble (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul was worked hard, beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, robbed, other dangers surrounded him and daily he was burdened for the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) yet he wrote most of the New Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit. If difficulties can happen to him, they can happen to us. The same grace that worked in Paul that pulled him through can work in you. Never discuss your problems with someone who cannot solve them. God can solve all things and it is good to talk, but be wise with whom you share, and don’t plaster them on social networking sites! Many people cannot be trusted.
How to Survive
An Italian Bishop practiced the following principles so as to survive and to go through all his trials, burdens and crosses that he had to bear. He said, “In whatever state I am, I first of all look up to heaven and I remember my principal business is to get there. I then look down upon the earth and call to mind how small a place I shall occupy when I come to be interred. I also look abroad in the world and see what multitudes there are in all respects more unhappy than myself. Thus, I learn where true happiness is placed, where all our cares must end, and how very little reason I have to complain. So that the manner in which I bear my trials so easy consists in nothing more than making a right use of my eyes.”
There is always people much worse off, count your blessings, not your woes.
Jesus our Example
Consider what happened to Jesus. He was mocked, whipped, beaten, spat at and hung naked on a cross in view of all to see with a crown of thorns on His head. The cross of Calvary was the ultimate injustice as the perfect sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world was crucified so that you could be forgiven of your sins. ‘Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls’ (Hebrews 12:2-3). ‘If we endure we shall also reign with Him…’ (2 Timothy 2:12a). ‘All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). We must take Christ as our pattern, ‘Looking unto Jesus…’ Jesus was familiar with sorrows and suffering even though He delighted in doing the Fathers will.
Joy is given to us now, not to replace suffering and pain, but to support us as we go through it.
Obedience is Learnt
Jesus ‘learnt obedience from what He suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8). As we begin to have trouble throughout life we should also be maturing in the most holy faith, and our character should be changed more towards that of Jesus, being conformed into His image. Nobody likes difficulties, pain and trials; we all prefer instant results without preparation but with God, this is not the case as it is all part of character building. Paul went to Arabia for three years, later he trained Timothy and many others. Moses was in the desert for thirty-eight years (when he fled after killing an Egyptian), and Joshua was under Moses for nearly forty years. Elisha was in training under Elijah for about twelve years. Even Jesus was in training for several decades, from His birth till His ministry started at around aged thirty. Only three years were actually in active service and He trained the twelve disciples, plus others. ‘For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights’ (Proverbs 3:12).
We all prefer instant holiness rather than having to lead a disciplined, developing, holy lifestyle. Learning from our mistakes and others is a way to mature and to become stronger. In dry climates, some trees will always look healthy and alive, because they have deep roots. The roots of a palm tree will always exceed its height; roots can grow to ninety metres in length. When storms come, they will not be uprooted, as they are firmly anchored in place. ‘The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree…’ (Psalm 92:12). You can cut a palm tree (and most other trees and shrubs), and it will not die as all its nutrients are deep within and not in the bark. When tropical storms arrive, the palm tree will bend and even touch the ground. After the storm has passed it will straighten up and actually be stronger where it was bent and as the Japanese proverbs goes: ‘The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists’ so allow God to have His way in you.
Lionel B. Fletcher wrote: ‘If we are true disciples the cross is certain [Matthew 16:24]. What your cross is, I do not know, but that there is a cross for you and me I do know. There is an old wise rule, ‘Never go one step out of the way of duty to either take a cross or to escape a cross.’ The burden of a cross for every Christian is as certain as that the denial of self is imperative.’
God disciplines us because He loves us, and wants the best for us. (Hebrews 12:5-13). He is the Potter, we are the clay. If you were to join the armed forces, you would go in as you are, but after months of training or years of service; come out another person, changed, physically toned, disciplined and ready to obey orders. We are disciplined by God because He loves us; we must accept it with the right attitude, as He wants us to share in His holiness. The trials we experienced can deepen and develop our faith. ‘Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledges Him and He will direct your paths’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).
William Carey missionary to India for thirty-eight years until his death wrote in his journal on February 3rd 1795: ‘This is indeed the valley of the Shadow of Death to me…But…God is here, who can not only have compassion, but is also able to save to the uttermost.’
The early disciples were subjected to punishment as they were motivated to hold ‘firm till the end’ (Hebrew 3:6). Revelations 2:7, 11, 17, 26 and Revelations 3:5, 12, 21, speaks about overcoming in the face of difficulties. The disciples trusted in Jesus the ‘Living hope’ (1 Peter 1:3). Difficulties can bring out the best or the worst in us. James 1:2-4 reveals that in trials we should be joyful as our faith is tested and can produce patience, so that we will be perfect and complete. 1 Peter 1:6-7 reveals that we endure these grief’s for a little while so that our faith can be tested and proven.
Do not worry about tomorrow; it can take care of itself. Tomorrow contains more joy than any yesterday you can recall. Experience is yesterday’s answer to today’s problem.
Christians sometimes suffer so they might glorify God in their lives. Martin Luther the spear-front of the Reformation in 1517, (justification by faith alone) came head to head with Rome and the papal system; on his many trials. Yet even some of his enemies made comment on his pious and meek godly attitude. ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him’ (James 1:12).
If you were to read the full account of ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs’ (spanning 1,500 years) you would read of Christians enduring the most sadistic tortures for not renouncing Christ and for trusting in Him alone for their salvation (Hebrews 11:32-40), yet the majority stayed firm till the end, ‘even to death’ (Revelation 12:11). Some whilst being burnt at the stake were singing praises to God and some of the torturers were won to Christ through the love of God flowing through these men, women and genuine children of Christ Jesus.
Rock not Sand
Difficulties if perceived from God’s perspective results in perseverance, the ability to go on in the face of opposition. Then we can become winners, overcomers and victorious in spite of the situations against us. Perseverance results in a Christ like character, having firm foundations built upon rock, not sand which can be washed away. Character builds hope and a better personality so continually look to God for help in times of trouble.
Do not let yesterday take up too much of today. Behold the turtle it makes progress only when it sticks its neck out! God’s grace is never wasted by its being given to us in advance of our needs and He knows how much we can bear, He knows our frame to be but dust.
Zipped Pockets and a Pickpocket
‘Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God’s for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This is not easy but we have to start from somewhere. I was on mission trips on a packed train on another continent when I was pick pocketed. My wallet, bankcards and some money (it was not all on me) was stolen. It was only the second day of the mission and I was the leader and treasurer! I had to make a decision, either to get angry or to accept this hard fact from a godly perspective. I chose to pray for the thief for the conversion of his or her soul. In the end, the Lord taught me some important lessons; that I could trust Him financial in all circumstances, as my cards were for my financial backup, and in future to wear trousers with zipped or Velcro pockets! The theft could have spoilt the whole mission, but in the word of Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” I also learnt not to buy so many souvenirs as I had no personal money left!
It is worth remembering that if you growl all day, you will feel dog tired at night. ‘All things work together for good’ (Romans 8:28).
Honey in the Cup
Life with problems is meant to deepen our faith and not to crush us (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, 16-18). Through testing, we lean more on Jesus and He becomes more real to us and magnified in our lives. The old nature starts to die and the new man starts to come to life. In the difficulties, we can perceive life from God's perspective, and so enjoy more of His presence and power. “There is honey in every cup of affliction which God puts into the hand of the Christian; but generally he has to wait until he reaches the bottom before he can taste it” said Victorian preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon.
Champions make decisions that create the future they desire while losers make decisions that create the present they desire. If God is for you, then who can be against you? A lesson learned now will take you through eternity. The over-comers are those who like an aeroplane when taking off rises against the wind, so they have risen against the adverse winds of life and circumstances to soar like an eagle, trusting in God, they run and do not grow weary (Isaiah 40:30-31 and Isaiah 43:1-3).
Fellowship with the Father
As things become more difficult and life is more of a struggle then the best thing to do is to get closer to the cross of Christ. Humbly bow the knee and submit to God, cling to the cross and embrace it for all that it is worth. 'God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble' (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5). ‘God is our refuge in times of trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). We need to continually come to the throne room of prayer for fellowship and comfort, ‘…in Your presence is fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16:11). ‘…for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10b).
When you’re down and feeling low then the best thing to do is to try and worship God, you don’t worship from your ‘feelings’ you worship God because He is worthy of all worship and adoration, firstly for who He is and secondly for what He has done. Pray and ask for God’s strength, grace and help in your time of need that will enable you to rise above your situation so that you will be able to rejoice in all circumstances even though you may still be hurting.
A Higher Level
We may get knocked down, but we are not knocked out (Proverbs 24:16). We will rise through all circumstances (if we desire to, do not give up) into a stronger more Christ-like person. As we look back on difficulties we can learn from experiences. There may be scars or a bitter taste in your mouth, but looking from God’s perspective, hopefully, you will be able to look back, smile and learn from the situation and move on to a higher level. The bitterness or disappointment you may be feeling; with God’s love and your forgiveness (which is a choice) can soon turn to sweet tasting honey on your tongue. ‘…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5b).
‘Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
‘…You O Lord have done as it pleased you’ (Jonah 1:14b).
The Storm will Pass
Perseverance results in Christ-like character, all disciples need to have firm foundations being built upon rock, and not sand that can be washed away in the floods of despair. Character builds hope and a better person. Experiencing a storm at sea is like experiencing difficulties in our life, it can come out of the blue from apparently nowhere. The storm can knock you of balance and perhaps make you feel unwell, but you will soon recover.
Continually look to God for help in time of trouble who is a shelter from the storms and raging tempest. It is God who rules the seas and can still the storm. ‘Why are you down cast, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God’ (Psalm 42:11). Trust God through your storm however fierce the waves may at first appear, look to Jesus like Peter did but do not take your eyes of Him otherwise you will begin to sink. However, if you do begin to sink then hold your hand out to Jesus and He will pull you to the surface. We may be tested in the furnace of affliction but like gold and all precious metals we all need to be refined and purified to be of greater value to our Owner, we have been bought at a great price (1 Corinthians 7:23).
‘The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials’ – Chinese Proverb.
Life Goes On
‘In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on’ – Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963). Often to look for answers is an exercise in unprofitable speculation. We must leave these matters to the hidden wisdom of God. Coming to terms with the fact that God delays answering our prayers when we know that what we are praying for is good and right can be a real test of out character. Will you trust God? Will you resolve to be more committed to God's will in and through your life; however He chooses to do it? All as God wills, who wisely heeds, to give or to withhold.
Recommended Book: Discipleship For Everyday Living: Christian Growth
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