Getting Through Challenges

The frog is head-and-shoulders inside the pelican’s mouth, but his back and legs dangle outside of it.  His front legs act like hands sticking out of both sides of the pelican’s beak and wrap around the pelican’s throat trying to choke him.  The frog’s back legs are kicking. When I saw this picture, it grabbed my attention. But the best part was the caption: “Never give up!”  I love it!

God has a lot to say about difficulties in life and how He uses them to change us.  We think they are miserable. And when crises come and seem to last forever, we often grieve.  God, however, thinks those times are useful.

1 Peter 1:6-7 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Have you grieved over things?  You know that terrible feeling that comes when you get really bad news.  It saps your strength and makes you feel like you have been hit in the stomach.  Maybe several hardships have  happened and they all culminated in you feeling grief. These trials are usually of different types- money, people, illness, seemingly unanswered prayer. But the effect they have on you is that they grieve you. If that is you right now, this scripture is for you.   I am amazed that God says that not only are times for grief acceptable, they are necessary.  “Necessary?” you might ask, “You mean I NEED THEM?!” God thinks we do.  We tend to think, “Surely there is another way. I shouldn’t have to endure this.”  No it is necessary.

The Need For Trials

You see, these trials are used by God to give you something that is more precious than money. They approve your faith! Like Paul writing to Timothy, “I kept the faith.” That old man’s faith has an effect on us 1900 years later.  It was more precious than gold. It was not just for Paul, but for me as well.

What if the reasons you have been grieved by bad news and had to put up with it was so your children can see that faith in God can get you through a crises? What if it is because in 15 or 20 years they are diagnosed with cancer and they remember how YOU endured hardship and you rejoiced and did not complain. What if they take courage to do what is right because of your example?  The testing of our faith is precious, valuable, worth something to God to us and to others.  I am sure you have been inspired in the past by someone who persisted right in the middle of a terrible situation that would just not go away.   You admired their courage, their good attitude, and deep down inside you, you wanted to be like them.

You have, for a little while, been grieved. That terrible feeling you feel when you receive really bad news is really there.

Trials can be so bad, Peter said, that it feels like you are in a furnace. Things are burning up all around. Some tests are so bad, no one can bear them. It is true you can not endure, but your faith can. Nothing but your faith can get you through this kind of test. But your faith can bring you through it and make it work for your good.  When we keep our faith alive, the whole trial ends up working for us and not against us.

Just like Peter said, in the end you get the reward, your loved ones get an example, and Jesus Christ gets the glory.