Saturday, May 11, 2013

"Enduring Hardship, Edifying Holiness" 

    Some difficult things in life are beyond our ability to change.  We've done everything we can, tried every possible remedy, and as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we've prayed every prayer we can pray.  Still, nothing changes, and we find ourselves faced with a dilemma of indeterminate or lifelong challenge.  

For the unbeliever, the best response involves simply resignation and the determination to make the best of a tough situation.  This is not, however, the way of God in thelives of His trusting children.   

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?   Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ForThy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors throughHim that loved us" (Romans 8:35-37).    

What if God determines or allows ongoing difficulty as opportunity for us to live as "more than conquerors throughHim?"  He does, of course, and thus our Lord calls us to far more than mereresignation andmaking the best of enduring hardship.  Indeed, by definition, living as "conquerors" requires challenges to overcome.  Moreover, we are not simply called to conquer, but to be "more than conquerors through Him." What does the Apostle Paul mean by this affirmation of something beyond, something farbeyond, the overcoming of difficulty?  The answer lies in the "through Him."  That is, enduring difficulties offer the possibility of knowing God in a manner impossible to discover in pleasant circumstances and conditions.  As we often suggest, quick deliverance from trial reveals the power of God's hand and the wisdom of His mind.  Knowing His grace during a long journey upon rocky paths, however, unveils to us God's heart.  We rejoice in the former, as we should.  Nevertheless, we will one day discover that the latter path offered even greater glories and greater forays into thesublime being of the Lord Jesus.    

This perspective of faith, based upon the Bible's plain and frequent affirmation of grace best blooming amid thorns, does not come easy.  Nor is itinevitable that we will choose to see our lingering trial in suchholy light.  The Truth is true, but the choice is ours regarding whether we will believe andexperience the power of its reality.  This is written as a reminder and encouragement to my own heart, and to yours.  Enduring hardship offers to us the possibility ofedifying holiness as we consistently draw near to the Lord whose Light shines most brightly against the backdrop of darkness.  He purposes to reveal Himself to us along the path of our challenge in a manner He could never display in any other way.  Merely resign ourselves to do the best we can?  Never, for the trusting son or daughter of God in Christ!  We rather draw upon "through Him" resources, and then live in the expectation of glories that could never be known save on long and difficult paths.

"Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure."(James 5:10-11)

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