Being in a relationship with Jesus, the Living Lord of Glory, is truly a wonderful experience. When a person surrenders to Christ one receives forgiveness of sins (Romans 6:23), the promise of an ever-present Savior and Helper (Hebrews 13:5), peace with God (Romans 5:1), and the promise of a home in heaven (John 14:3). We are also delivered from the power of sin and its devastating effects on us (Romans Chapter 6-8). These are positive life-changing experiences that totally revolutionize one’s life and move it in a very positive direction. However, there are still many difficulties to be faced as one endeavors to live for Jesus.
First of all, there is the problem of indwelling sin. Even though we want to do well and honor the Lord we still possess a body of flesh that is prone to temptation and doubt. The Apostle Paul wrestled with this in Romans 7. Many Christians who are delivered from horrific sins still wrestle with seemingly small and nagging sins that frustrate them. Second, hardships and difficulties are part of the Christian life. The Apostle Paul described His life in 2 Corinthians 11: Five times he was beaten with 39 lashes of the whip, three times was beaten with rods, stoned with rocks once, shipwrecked three times, often hungry and destitute. Wow! That doesn’t sound like “your best life now!” Furthermore, our Lord Jesus was described as a Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Jesus learned obedience by what He suffered. His life was not easy as He endeavored to follow the Heavenly Father’s will for Him. Pain and suffering was a part of our Savior’s time here on earth.
If you are struggling today and your life seems to be in chaos I have good news. You are not alone. God is not mad at you. While it is always possible that you might be going through some discipline for sinful behavior, God most often uses our trials and sufferings to increase our faith, help us grow in sanctification, and to be a witness to God’s saving and sustaining power in the face of trials. People all around us are suffering and there is no greater witness for God than a Christian who is suffering but who holds steadfastly to the Lord and patiently surrenders to Him as He leads him through fiery trials.
Our family can attest to the difficulties one faces as he tries to serve the Lord. We have moved 1,000 miles twice in the last 11 years. We deal with various physical illnesses (some of which we never say much about). Like many we were impacted by hurricane Harvey. This past Spring, we had to live in a hotel for two months while water damage from a busted pipe was being repaired. Almost everyone in our family suffered from the flu this year and various injuries. In the midst of trying to recover from a vicious stomach virus a tree fell in my yard and almost hit the room where I was resting.
All of these situations were bad, but let’s look at the good side of these situations. I’ve experienced the Lord increasing my faith and trust in Him. Often I had to cry out to Him in desperation for help and He answered and did things that I could not do in my own strength and wisdom. I’ve experienced generosity from the saints of God that totally blows my mind. In the midst of illness and displacement the congregation at Kenefick Southern Baptist Church where I serve stepped up and led in wonderful ways. I don’t think my presence was been missed very much!
While such a revelation might frighten some leaders, this is actually what we are hoping will happen when we train others to lead. Our difficulties cause us to reevaluate how we have been living and ministering and to make changes. Have we been stressed and anxious at times? Yes. But we have also been forced to surrender our lives to the Lord afresh and anew and have seen Him work powerfully in us, through us, and to us. I can truly say that God has opened my eyes to those who are suffering and bruised. I am more committed than ever to help bring healing and hope to others by sharing the remedy, the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!
The Christian life is not an easy one, but it is far from boring. Satan attacks us, trials come, and sufferings abound, but God is working in us and is using our broken lives to testify to His saving, preserving, and sustaining power and love!
For I’m persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present or things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39, CSB).
Debris from our home last Spring