This morning I found myself thinking about “difficulties”. We all have them in our lives at some point or another. In fact, life seems to ebb and flow, as difficulties and good times seem to intersect.
‘Difficulties’, as defined by dictionary.com is > “a trouble or a struggle; an embarrassing situation; reluctance; unwillingness.”
No one wants them. We would love to avoid them at all costs. One thing is for sure …
Difficulties test our faith.
Yet Peter tells us, difficulties will not be avoided but rather we can expect them:
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange is happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for those trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NLT)
There are a few things Peter tells us about difficult times:
- Don’t be surprised. We always seem to think life should be easy or at best, easier than it is. Yet Peter reminds us not to be surprised but rather know it. It is not “if” we go through hard times but “when”.
- Difficulties can bring us closer to the Lord. We become partners with Christ. We become linked with Christ for His purposes.
- It’s a test. God often uses situations as a “test”, a means of strengthening our faith and ability to trust Him. The New American Commentary states, “God uses suffering as a means to purify his house (i.e., the church of God as his temple) … Sufferings are not a sign of God’s absence but of his purifying presence.” (Volume 37, page 219)
- God uses us in the midst of our difficulties. As those around us see the way in which God sustains us, they see His power at work in us. We become an example of God’s power at work in spite of our weaknesses.
- There is a joy coming. While we can have joy in this life, even in the midst of hard days, God has a future joy which is unsurpassed, not yet experienced.
So don’t let today’s difficulties surprise you. Instead, know He is working in you that which will last forever. Psalm 30:5 tells us, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” And that rejoicing is the jumping up and down kind of rejoicing. No holding back. Sheer exuberance.