Walking through the rugged terrain of our spiritual journey remains a challenge for every believer. Yet, God is our Heavenly Father who has plans and purpose for each of us. We are promised immortality living in the New Heaven and New Earth, which requires Christ-like character. To be like Jesus is not easily accomplished. In fact, it is impossible to be righteous without Divine intervention. The Apostle Paul, who was incarcerated while writing at least five books of the Bible, provides vital information on suffering:
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Hardships appear to place us in the wilderness helplessly fending alone. And that is the mindset that Satan desires for God’s children to possess, but do not let the greatest enemy of humanity deceive you. The Apostle Paul encourages us, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.” 2 Corinthians 4:17. Just as our fingerprints differ, so do our tests and trials. My character deficits will be addressed by God differently than another believer’s weaknesses. Sadly, there are characteristics that most of us share: Strong willed, an independent spirit, and seeking after our desires.
Our strong determination places us out of alignment with the will of God. Eventually, God places hardships upon us that only He can solve. When our strategies fail, only then do we realize our limitations. Yes, a loving God allows our challenges to overwhelm us so He can save our souls. Through our trials, God sends two messages: 1. If you are my disciple, you must surrender, obey, have faith, and follow me. 2. I did not create you to live as if I do not exist. You must rely on me.
Do not rely on your feelings! Our emotional responses lead to self-defeat. The life of a believer does not stay the same. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 tells us it is a time and season for everything. We may ask, “How much longer must I suffer?” King Solomon answers our question in Proverbs 24:10: If you fail under pressure your strength is to small. Soldiers in God’s Army must be steadfast! We gain spiritual strength through study of the scriptures, prayer, faith, trust, obedience, and perseverance. The human effort of preparing for trials and temptations is accomplished by putting on our armor every day. Ephesians 6:11-18
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
Whether in a season of stormy trials or tranquil peace, our faith and trust in God are dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Jesus serves as our Heavenly Intercessor. It’s only possible for Christ to intercede for us when we ask for divine intervention through prayer. Knowing that Jesus is just a prayer away provides us with His peace and the refreshment of living waters [John 7:37-39]. We have the Team–God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who promised never to leave or forsake us.
Sanctification is a life-long process of living righteously by faith. We can be thankful that our Team never gives up on us–they are with us in every changing season that we face. Victory belongs to Jesus. Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of shifting. James 1:17
God, thank your for your love, grace and mercies. We ask for forgiveness of our sins of self-reliance. Please give us reassurance and strength when we are feeling defeated. And help us to possess a spirit of gratitude whether in the stormy seasons or in peaceful times. In Jesus’ powerful name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry