Life is hard. Turn on the news, talk to a friend, or even look at your own life, and it’s obvious that nothing about living in this world is easy. To make matters worse, it seems like every day that goes by, things only get harder – Russia has invaded Ukraine, inflation and taxes just keep getting higher, laws keep getting stricter, crime is on the rise, and people are dying from diseases, suicide, and so much more. What a depressing world we live in, right?
I’ve got good news for you! Despite all the chaos and disorder in this cruel world, we still have a reason to be joyful, we still have hope for a future! This is not the end. And no matter how bad things get, we can take heart in knowing that we have a God who loves us!
I woke up this morning, after a long night of bad sleep. Sickness has hit our home this week, and the suffering is real. One of the first things I do each morning, after sitting down on the couch with my coffee, is open the Bible app and read the verse of the day. God knows I needed to read this today:
What a wonderful promise that is! Note, God isn’t promising that we won’t suffer. He doesn’t tell us life is going to be easy. On the contrary, the Bible tells us in several different passages that there will be struggles in this life, even for those that love God.
That’s because the world is tainted by sin. But God tells us that for those of us that choose to love Him and obey Him, we have much to look forward to. Our suffering here on earth is temporary. One day we will be restored to Him, and we will suffer no more.
We struggle and suffer with many temporary things, like finances, relationships, or health. While these types of suffering are often short-lived, it always seems that as we get through one challenge, there’s another one waiting around the bend. As we like to say, “There’s always something.”
But I won’t lose heart, because I know that my God is faithful and just to complete the good work that he began in me (Phil 1:6). I know that the more I turn to God, the more I will be strengthened. The suffering I go through only builds up my character more. And through the suffering, my faith is often put to the test. I turn to God and I cry out to Him, and I know he hears my cries because “he will never leave me nor forsake me.” (Hebrews 13:5)
The Apostle James tells us to “consider it PURE JOY” when we are faced with the various trials this life has to offer. He says, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:3-4)
If you aren’t learning and growing from the hardships you face, you’re wasting them. The enemy wants us to view the issues of life as something negative, that will bring us down. This is quite the opposite of finding joy in the hard times.
James continues on with what will happen if we choose to allow our negative experiences to grow us. He says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In verse 1:12, he says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that love Him.”
We have to push through those hard times to get our reward. And trust me, the reward will be worth it!
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to struggle. He spent the majority of his Christian ministry behind bars, and wrote many of his letters while in chains. He was locked up for teaching the love of Jesus, but chains couldn’t make him be quiet. From his jail cell, he rejoiced and praised God, and even converted some of the prison guards to turn their hearts to Jesus! What an amazing example of turning a sour situation into something so sweet!
Philippians is one of the letters Paul wrote while imprisoned in Rome and I highly recommend you read through the short letter on your own. It is the model of how to live a life filled with joy and purpose, even when the outlook appears grim. The crux of this letter to the Church of Philippians is, in my opinion, in the commonly known passage about pressing on:
First, there’s that mention of a prize again! Second, let’s not miss the point Paul is trying to make here – our prize is in heaven – and if you aren’t sure, read on, because in verses 20-21 he says, “But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Wow! Just wow. This passage leaves me a bit speechless and breathless. So many promises wrapped up in a couple verses.
First, this world is not our home. So if you ever feel like you’re out of place, a stranger in this land, it’s because you are! You are just visiting. You’re a citizen of Heaven, and you’re just here on earth, passing through.
Second, we’re just waiting for Jesus to come back and get us, so he can take us home! Remember, we only have to suffer for a little while. We have work to do while we’re here, so don’t waste any time. There’s a prize waiting for those who fulfilled their calling while here on earth.
Third, Jesus is in control! No matter what happens, no matter how terrible the circumstances become, Jesus is still in control, and he has the power to just speak, “Peace, be still.” And the storm will die down and the waters will become calm. (Mark 4:35-31)
Finally, this body is temporary!!! When we finally reach our destination, we will be transformed and be given a new glorious body, like Jesus Christ! All of our diseases, pains, sorrows – all of them will be taken away and replaced with perfect bodies.
I know life is hard. I know it seems like things just can’t get any worse, and another problem is waiting around the corner. But take heart, my friends, this suffering is temporary for those that love God. Do not lose heart! Keep fighting the battle! Press on and take hold of your prize of the upward call of Jesus Christ.