When Times Get Tough, Christians Get Tougher!
It may be hard to hear at times, but the saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” is true and applies to Christians more than most. We know this because the Bible states it over and over again. We see recorded in the Scriptures again and again where men and women of faith persevered in times of trial, temptation, and tribulation. The writer of Hebrews used chapter eleven of that book to prove that very point. He discussed how their faith saw them through many hardships and then made application for all who would follow in their footsteps. In the beginning of chapter twelve he stated, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). He tells us to follow their example, rid our lives of sin, and then live our Christian lives “with endurance”. Those great men and women who suffered so much serve as an example to show us how faith and perseverance can see us through the tough times and even help us grow. Let’s examine how the Bible teaches we can become spiritually tougher as a result of what this life throws at us.
1. The trials and tribulations of this life develop perseverance, character, and hope. The apostle Paul wrote that we have been “justified by faith” and because of that “we have peace with God though our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Because of our faith and the grace of God we can have hope. That hope grows stronger as we faithfully endure life’s hardships. He went on to say, “we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3). Perseverance and character are not inherited; they are attributes that are gained through life experience. Speak to some Christians who have been through some hard times and you can see the fruits of their hardships. This character and patience can be used to help others who go through similar ordeals. When we suffer in life, and gallantly press our way through it, we grow into someone better prepared to help ourselves, help others, and serve God more faithfully.
2. The trials of life help us to better realize the need for God in our lives. Have you ever met someone that needed to be taken down a peg or two? The kind of person who believes they can rely solely on themselves to make it through life. I think we all have, because I believe all of us have possibly felt that way in our own lives at some time or another. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). Why do you think He said that? We need to realize our situation before we will be willing to allow God to begin to fix it. This was the reason God sentenced mankind to die and placed the curse on the ground when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. We must all come to the realization, and sometimes be reminded, that we would be hopelessly lost without God. David learned this lesson the hard way several times in his life. After acknowledging his sin, and the problems it had brought to his life, he stated, “do not forsake me, O lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation” (Psalm 38:21,22). David was wrought with many hardships that were not his fault, and many that were, but they served the purpose of driving him back to God for help and guidance. We should use the hard times to draw near to God and cast our cares on Him.
3. The trials of life can help us better understand and appreciate what Christ did for us on the cross. Serious contemplation of what Jesus went through on the cross for us can motivate us to endure hardship better. Peter wrote, “yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Pet. 4:16). Paul was proud to say he bore the “marks of the Lord Jesus” on his body (Gal. 6:17). Because of what Christ did, we should be able to find joy and hope in the trials we endure for His sake (Matt. 5:11,12; 1 Pet. 1:6,7; Jam. 1:2). The hard times will help us better appreciate the importance of the cross. -Ed