Tested in Difficulties

We often encounter adversities, problems, unpleasant people and situations in life. Oh, that we would learn to see them from the divine perspective, and thankfully receive them from God’s hand! Then God can be glorified through our lives.

Often when we speak about living a victorious life, we hear: “Yes, I would gladly live such a life, but in my circumstances, I am unable to. My situation is so difficult; it is just impossible!”

A number of years ago, a business owner commented to me: “Yes, Pastor, it’s easy for you to talk! You can constantly have the Bible in your hand to prepare for sermons and Bible studies. But me! You just wouldn’t believe what kind of trouble my six employees cause me!”

“Well,” I told her, “if I have it so much easier than you, let us trade positions! I will take over educating your six employees, and you can have the responsibility of teaching religion to my 120 students.” That is how many I had at the present time. When she heard “teaching religion to my 120 students,” she changed her tune. She said: “No, we better leave it as it is.” That was a better idea.

It is useless to think I would be able to lead a victorious life if my circumstances were not so difficult. It is exactly in these circumstances that a victorious life must be proven and revealed.

Let us just think about what the requirements are for the word “victorious.” Victory is only experienced if a battle has taken place. Therefore, a victorious life will not be experienced without struggles and difficulties. It is only possible to live a victorious life when we have victory over the daily battles in our life. Therefore, the daily struggles are necessary. This is the only way we can achieve a victorious life.

If we would be able to choose our path of life, I am afraid many would do this foolishly and wish for a comfortable and pleasant walk between fields of flowers and shady forests. We would not climb steep elevations nor wander through deep, dark valleys. Do you really think we would achieve something if our path of life would compare to such an easy and comfortable walk? I doubt it very much. 

If everything so smoothly went
The way that you would like it;
If God took nothing from your hands,
No loads on you submitted,
What would the end of your life be
Once time on earth is done?
Your soul would quickly perish, since
to the world you have been won.

Very often, parents are so concerned about their children having a “good life” that they try to prevent them from facing any difficulties! God does not do things this way. God leads us directly into trials and struggles. Here we are toughened and forged; here we become steadfast and strong, courageous, and victorious.

Paul writes in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” And in the following verse, he states why this is important, namely: “To be conformed to the image of His Son.” Thus, all things, without exception and disagreement, work together for this one purpose: to be conformed to the image of His Son. And how would we describe the “image of Jesus?”

He is the image of a lamb. In the Old as well as the New Testament, Jesus is called the “Lamb.” And all the lambs that were slaughtered in Israel, beginning with the Passover lamb in Egypt, were symbols and examples of the Lamb of God. 

This is the great plan of God, done with a purpose and goal in His mind: to form us in His image.

All things must serve for this purpose, and that includes the unpleasant and troublesome things, not only the afflictions and sicknesses that come from God but also the tribulations and trouble imparted by people.

Those displeasing people of whom you have often sighed and complained, they also belong to “all things.” Yes, they specifically belong there. These displeasing and unsympathetic people deserve our thanks! They are our benefactors!

Would we have the opportunity to learn how to be friendly and humble, to bear and persevere, if these displeasing people would not confront us? Just look at these unsympathetic people and realize that God is using them to form you in the image of Jesus. Can you allow yourself to get angry and upset at them? Instead, learn to accept it from God’s hand, and thank God for these people.

Yes, as soon as we begin to always give thanks for all things, as we read in Ephesians 5:20, these people will no longer be displeasing to us. We will no longer suffer but will rather be free from hard feelings. We will have victory!

And now continue reading beyond Romans 8:28 to the end of the chapter. What a story is revealed here regarding battle and victory! Paul had to deal with tribulation, anxiety, distress, persecution, and troubles of all kinds.  Did he say: “I cannot live a victorious life in my circumstance?” Oh no! A bright light was shining directly into the dark shadows of his troubles and suffering: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And further: Nobody and nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

No, the difficulties are to bring us nearer to God and give us valuable opportunities to glorify Him.

And we owe this to the believers. There are so many weak and fainthearted souls among them who need a stronghold on whom they can lean and an example to whom they can look up to. Paul wrote to young Timothy to be an example to the believers. This is also our job and our duty. It would be greatly beneficial if in the congregations of the Church of God there would be more examples and pillars of victory.

We are indebted to our crucified and resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ, to make victory visible in the lives of His own. We also owe it to the entire world. In Romans 8:19, Paul writes: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” The entire world is waiting for God’s children to step forward as the overcomers.

May we realize our responsibility towards God and our fellow men. Everyone is waiting for us to lead a victorious life. Should the world wait in vain?

Ernst Modersohn

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