Faith Is Not always Easy!
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NLT)
Trials and Difficulties Help Develop Our Christian Character
I have discovered that we grow stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually when we are compelled to overcome difficulties Ė those times when we totally depend on God. Going to a doctorís appointment one day, I saw dozens of sea gulls as we crossed Lake Houston. We actually donít live very far from the coast. They say the sea gull rises against the wind turbulents and that reminded me how there are times, with Godís help, we rise against the winds of adversity.
This is true in every walk of life -- even the game fish swim up stream against the current. I read that the finest violins are made from the wood that comes from trees that have been subjected to the twisting and bending of the winds?
The trials and difficulties of this life will help to develop our Christian character if we react rightly toward them. If we face our difficult situations with courage and with Godís help, they will develop us into nobler characters. Quite often we do not understand why difficult times come, or why they are permitted. Yet, the Master has a purpose in them. Oh, that we will rightly react to them. The Lord has a grand purpose in permitting the tests and difficulties of life to come our way.
In one of his books, the late Alexander Maclaren tells the story that when he was sixteen years of age he accepted his first job in Glasgow, Scotland. He lived six miles from the big city. Between his home and Glasgow there was a deep ravine that was supposed to be haunted. Some really terrible things had happened in it and he was afraid to go through, even in the daytime. At night it was out of the question. On that first Monday morning his father walked with him to work, and in parting he said, "Alec, come home as fast as you can when you get off Saturday night." Thinking of that deep ravine, Maclaren said he answered, "Father, I will be awfully tired Saturday night, and I will come home early Sunday morning." But his father was adamant, "No, Alec. You have never been away from home before, and these five days are going to seem like a year to me. Come home Saturday night." Reluctantly Alec answered, "All right, Father, Saturday night." All week long Alec said he worried about that black ravine. When Saturday night came, he was more scared than ever, but he wrapped up his belongings and went out to the end of the scary ravine. He said, "I whistled to keep my courage up, but when I looked down into that inky blackness I knew I couldn't go. The tears came unbidden, and then suddenly, I heard footsteps in the ravine coming up the path. I started to run but hesitated, for those footsteps were very familiar. "Up out of the darkness into the pale light, as I watched, came the head and shoulders of the grandest man on earth. He was bound to have known I was scared, but he only said, `Alec, I wanted to see you so badly that I came to meet you.' So shoulder to shoulder we went down into the valley and I was not afraid of anything that walked."
Most of us have had our black valleys in life. But the presence of the Lord has enabled us to not be afraid of the dark shadows. Some of us have passed through the dark valley in the loss of loved ones, but the Master came to us and helped us through this dark ravine of life. His presence is the guarantee of our victory. When the dark and unknown passages of life come, Christ will also come.
Psalms 23:4 reminds us, ďYea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Ē I quote this psalm often and each time I picture in my mind that when death comes to me, I know I will be ushered into my new heavenly home by Jesus, my Savior. Iím glad I belong to Him.