I was complaining to God recently about the difficulties of life (please tell me that I’m not the only one who does that!). All I wanted was a little relief. Some time – a few days of peace when I didn’t have to think about problems and stress.
You would think God would be OK with that. But it didn’t happen.
On the same day of my complaint, (not before and not later!) I was reading in the book of 2 Timothy and came to verse 3. It says, You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
That’s where I stopped reading. No point in going any further. The answer was right in front of me in black and white.
Not if you want to, but you must!
There’s no ambiguity about it. Hardships will come in the Christian life and you must endure them; tolerate them; stomach them; put up with them.
Just to make his point clear, the Apostle followed that statement up with illustrations of three people who have to put up with hardships. The soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. All of them face hardships by virtue of the occupation they have chosen, and they must endure them to be successful.
I’m sure that anyone who goes into one of those three lines of work knows that their life will involve hardships, but I doubt that any of them understood the extent of the hardships they would face.
The same is true of the Christian. When you became a Christian you automatically were placed in a position similar to that of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. A place of hardship.
You may have had some vague idea that the Christian life would make your life harder in some way, but, like the soldier, athlete or farmer, you probably didn’t understand the extent of the hardships you would face.
And then you found out!
And the encouragement you got as you searched the Word of God for answers is that sometimes you simply have to endure.
Endure the pain. Endure the suffering. Endure the hardships.
There’s not much comfort in that. But there is comfort in the knowledge that you can handle the greatest hardships in life by the grace of God.
That was the lesson the same Apostle who wrote 2 Timothy 2:3 learned and recorded for us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 as he dealt with his own hardship. As he asked God to remove his trial, the divine response was My grace is sufficient for you. All Paul needed to handle his hardship was the grace of God.
And that’s all any of us need.
We need God’s grace.
Thankfully, God has made sure that in the person of Jesus we received His grace. Another Apostle, this time John, wrote, and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. The emphasis is on the abundance of grace that we received in the person of Jesus. We have all of the grace we need.
All of the grace to face the hardships that will come. All of the grace to make it through difficult times. All of the grace to handle the stress of life.
Grace piled on top of grace.
So, I had to stop and ask God to give me grace instead of praying for a way of escape.
The good news is that there is Grace for the Journey.
Stay in the Word