The Discipline of Difficulty

In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
JOHN 16:33

An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It is deliverance in trouble, which is very different. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High…there shall no evil befall thee” – no plague can come nigh the place where you are at one with God.

If you are a child of God, there certainly will be troubles to meet, but Jesus says do no be surprised when they come. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, there is nothing for your to fear.” Men who before they were saved would scorn to talk about troubles, often become “fushionless” after being born again because they have a wrong idea of a saint.

God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the step, and God will give you to eat of the tree of life and you will get nourishment. If you spen yourself out physically, you become exhausted; but spend yourself spiritually, and you get more strength. God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute. The temptation is to face difficulties from a commonsense standpoint. The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.

(Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. The Classic Edition, August 2 entry. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing, Inc., 1963.)

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As I read this entry today, I was struck by how true his statements are, even now. So many people become Christians thinking it will make all their problems go away. They, then, quickly fall away when troubles continue to come. I love the line above, “God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome.” The troubles that we have to work through and see through are what will shape us into the Christians we should become; full of the life that was promised through Jesus Christ. It also brought to mind the verses in Romans 5 about perseverance and hope.

3  Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4  and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NET)

Instead of grumbling about trials and troubles, we should remember that they are there because of God’s love for us and what He wants us to become.

Dear Lord, I pray that next time troubles come, I will remember Your love for me and what you’re shaping me to be. Please let me face those troubles with your strength and joy, so that I can reflect Your light into this dark world. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

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