Are you going through tough times? Why do you think we get so wimpy during trials in life? So many folks are lifting their hands and praising Jesus and then they trip over a difficult pebble, fall on their face, and decide to give up!
Now I know there are certain circumstances that punch you so hard in the gut that you can’t even breathe for days, weeks, and months. Although God is still faithful in those traumatic experiences, those are not the ones I’m referencing today.
I’m talking about the ‘normal’ difficulties that we face in certain seasons of our lives? It’s as if this scripture completely falls through the cracks:
“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
AND The Message version makes me want to sit and ugly cry at God’s goodness:
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
Plainly written … right there. Yet when we hit a road block in life it’s so easy to fall and “foam at the mouth” (as my husband would say), throwing a tantrum on the ground like we have no sense whatsoever! The scripture tells us that the hard things we go through help to make us stronger and produce better character in us.
Perseverance – we hear that a lot in Christian circles but in case you don’t know what it means: steadfastness (firmly fixed) in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. We stay firmly fixed during hard times and doing so produces character (mental and moral qualities) in us. That character creates hope … and that hope does not lead to disappointment.
Without suffering, the above paragraph doesn’t take place in our lives. We don’t grow. We stay stagnant. Can you reflect back on your life and think of extremely difficult times that you went through? Did you come through them? Do you feel stronger because of those difficult times? Amazing how The Word of God is true over and over again even when we’re not feelin’ it, huh?
I see this visual from when I used to work in the restaurant as a server. I was a corporate gal for a couple of years in a cozy office but decided to hit the restaurant biz with my stellar customer service skills and outgoing personality! I trained for a couple of weeks and then it was time for the real deal.
One of my most favorite jobs was being a server. I love the energy, the interaction, the challenge of turning a bad experience into a good experience. I remember that morning like it was yesterday! I was ready for action, took my first couple of orders and headed to the kitchen window to pick up the food for my guests.
I reached out and grabbed ahold of that first plate and thought. I. was. going. to. die. …….. Like, for real. DIE! That plate was so darn hot! I barely grabbed it and dropped it immediately. “OWWWWWW!” I yelled. “Is that normal?!” I asked the experienced server next to me who was stacking DEATH plates up her arm.
She laughed and said, “Yes. You’ve just got inexperienced hands. Each time you touch the plates they will burn you. The more they burn you, the more your skin will be able to tolerate the heat. Soon you’ll be able to carry plates like me- but you’ve got to start by allowing yourself to get burnt.”
For a while I had to use (clean) kitchen rags to help me but even the plates would burn through those suckers! After a few weeks I was able to hold the plates in my hands. A little while later I was able to stack the plates up my arms. If plates were in the window, I was there to get them quickly and out to our guests.
I had to allow my hands to get burnt in order to do my job efficiently. If I would have resisted the pain it would slow me down. I had a choice to complain and talk about the pain (which I’m sure I made a HUGE dramatic deal about how stupid it was to touch those hot plates and how dangerous it was … but ultimately had to suck it up to get the job done!) or I could just face what was ahead, trust the experienced and INCREDIBLE server (who made BANK with her tips) and let my hands get tougher through pain and experience.
God allows our tender characters to be tested. He allows opportunity to refine and mature us. It certainly burns at first but as we continue to experience the heat of trials while leaning on Jesus, we tend to build a higher tolerance for that heat and develop more trust and love for Jesus as he carries us through each trial.
We live in a broken world. It’s crumbling. Bad things happen and life just flat out sucks sometimes. I do know this – God is good. He is faithful. He is true to His Word. He works out all things for the good of those who love Him. He will never leave nor forsake us. His Word is truer than how we feel. God’s plans are never to harm us but to give us hope and a future…and what the enemy means for bad, The Lord will use for good.
So touch the hot plates. It’s surely uncomfortable and it may not make sense but it will condition you so that the heat of life, that inevitably burns us, won’t completely take you out.
Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.
AND HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. EVER.
You are dearly loved!