Life is filled with difficulties, especially when we experience unexpected, not-so-desirable turn of eventssuch as COVID-19 that is affecting everything, everyone, everywhere.
God doesn’t promise that we won’t have difficulties. In fact, John 16:33 (TLB) we read “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.”
I love that phrase “cheer up.” Other translations use the phrase “take courage” (NASB) or “be courageous” (CSB). It stirs hope and encourages us to take heart, not in our own abilities or will power, but in the finished work of Jesus who has overcome.
As the Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
We are reminded in James 1:2 that when “troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (MSG) It seems the issue is not rather you will face difficulties, but when you face them. I believe one of the hardest lessons we must learn is how to be joyful in the midst of these challenges.
Difficulties offer invaluable opportunities to experience the greatest joy. It is not because the challenges are a pleasurable experience, but it is what it brings about.
Let’s digress for a moment and consider the production of iron. It all began around 2000 BC in south-central Asia. This marked the beginning of the Iron Age whereiron would be produced by blacksmiths who would heat the iron and hammer out impurities over an anvil.
The resulting iron was tough but malleable.
Then during the Middle Ages, a new type of iron was developed using higher temperatures. This was known as cast iron, which was harder than wrought iron but more brittle.
Iron formed the material basis of human civilization for over three thousand years until the mass production of steel in 1870 AD.
Consider what happens “when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.”—James 1:2-4 TPT
Much like iron being developed using higher temperatures, when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow and develop. So, we need to face the challenges and not try to squirm out of them, so we become complete in Him.
What is your perspective when difficulties come your way? Is it dread? Or have you been able to clothe yourself in joy and view these challenges as something that happens in this world. It is an opportunity to arise, choose to be courageous and filled with joyful expectation, knowing that God promises to lead us in triumph. (see 2 Corinthians 2:14). He will work all things for good.
I love this quote by John Bevere The greater the battle, the greater the victory—and ultimately, the greater the glory. And here’s the really great news: you don’t ever have to lose a battle!
So, take heart my friend, not in your own abilities or willpower, but in the finished work of Jesus. You are an overcomer no matter what difficulties might come your way.