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Posts Tagged ‘John 16:33’

Not long ago I came across these words in Acts 14:22: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

I don’t like the sound of that! Especially the word must. And considering the recent converts Paul was speaking to that day, it seems awfully harsh. Shouldn’t Paul have softened his message a bit by saying, “We might go through hardships?”

Raphael, St Paul Preaching in Athens

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet Paul was saying nothing that Jesus hadn’t warned his disciples about: “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33, emphasis added).

The reality begs the question why. Why is hardship inevitable? God Almighty is sovereign over all. It’s well within his power to protect us from difficulty. So why doesn’t he?

Here are some possibilities:

1. “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul could have said his troubles were heavy and ongoing rather than light and momentary. He had been falsely accused, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and more. But Paul’s focus wasn’t on his earthly life. He was already focused on his future life in heaven. Every time he endured suffering, it meant the glory yet to come would be all the more splendorous by comparison. Paul understood:  Problems focus our perspective.

English: Saint paul arrested

English: Saint Paul arrested (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Hardships remind us of what Jesus endured for us. Anything we might suffer cannot begin to compare to what he suffered on the cross—the extreme pain, the loathsome humiliation, and the unbearable separation from his Heavenly Father. Problems foster appreciation for our precious Savior.

3. “Faith must be tested because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest). Faith does not grow without testing. Trials provide the best opportunity to become intimate with God. And what could be more valuable than an intimate relationship with our loving, wise Heavenly Father? Therefore, we need to remember: Problems draw us closer to God.

Heavenly Father, thank you for caring so deeply about me that you discipline me. I want to reach that level of maturity where I rejoice in problems because of the growth opportunities they provide and the intimacy with you that will result. Continue to chip away at the hesitancy and obstinacy in my spirit that stands in the way.

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