Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Romans 5:3-5 (PBT)
Pressure develops patient endurance and refines our character. Own the secret of pressure, and hope arises. Disappointment has to bow to hope. The proving ground of our Christian faith always happens in the unfamiliar. Tough times are not always bad nor destructive. They are times that challenge us to grow. Sometimes that means toughening up so we can grow up.
When life tests us, it is our faith that is being tested. Don’t allow your past to overshadow your future. Live in the present. James challenged those in the first century who had been scattered by religious persecution. They were in unfamiliar territory. Uprooted from all that had been familiar and expected, they were scattered literally, physically and emotionally. As young Christians they were out of their comfort zone. No one saw it coming. James refers to them as those “scattered like seeds!”
James’ challenge was to see their difficulties as “invaluable opportunities”. Right! Hindsight is always preceded by proving ground challenges. Look back in earlier years of your life and you know this is true. Fortunately for us we have the account of those who walked through life and death circumstances as they spread the Gospel. The writings of the early apostles raise the standard we need in unfamiliar times.
The challenge is that we have to want to see the “invaluable opportunities”. What is it that blinds us to opportunities in difficult times? Maybe our expectations have been placed more in the comfortable than in the Word of God? Perhaps our daily agenda has become so crusty in its routine nature that it isn’t fresh? Seasons change. Learn what nature teaches us about change.
In Fall, nature sheds all that is unnecessary as it prepares for winter.
In Winter, nature goes underground and rests to prepare for Spring growth.
In Spring, nature deepens her roots and prepares for the nourishing growth of Summer.
In Summer, nature goes for full impact growth but readies to let go of the unnecessary in Fall.
How can we learn to see “invaluable opportunities”?
- Discern what season we are in.
- Discern potential plot twists that may be coming.
- Discern needed changes in our character and relationships
- Discern heart conditions for spiritual change and make adjustments.
Patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.
Romans 5:4 (PBT)