God's Help for Hard Times
Biblical Keys to Overcome Pain, Fear and Hardship
By James L. Morrisson with Maria Kneas
God's priorities are not our priories. We tend to want physical health, freedom from physical and emotional pain, and enough material possessions to live comfortably. We may feel deprived and unjustly treated if we do not have these.
God wants us to have "good" things. (Psalm 84:11) However, His primary concern is not with our physical circumstance. I believe His primary concerns are:
- Our eternal salvation
- Our growth into Christian maturity and character
- Our usefulness ("fruitfulness) in the kingdom of God
The early Christians endured a great deal of suffering. They were a persecuted church. What was their reaction to hardship and suffering?
The record of Scripture is absolutely amazing! They did not complain about it, or say that it was more than they could bear. They welcomed it as something that taught them and strengthened them! Look at what they said about it:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. " (James 1:2-4
"... we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." (1 Peter 1:6-8)
"For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees..." (Hebrews 12:10-12)
The unanimous voice of the New Testament writers is that pain and suffering teach us and strengthen us and help us to become mature. There were writers who had, themselves, experienced considerable suffering.
There is a principle in athletic training that says, "No pain, no gain." I suggest that the same principle apples to our growth into spiritual maturity. Quite often it seems that we grow only in the presence of discomfort of pain that makes us feel the need for change, and forces us to cry out to God.
I want to make one thing clear. These New Testament writers did not seek out pain. they did not deliberately inflict it on themselves. But when it came, they welcomed it as an opportunity to grow and to learn.
There have been, and still are, some people who deliberately inflict pain on themselves as a way of showing devotion to God or attempting to achieve holiness. I find no support for such a view in Scripture. This kind of self-inflicted pain is not what I am talking about.
"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:1-2
Copyright2012 by James L. Morrisson, Frances F. Morrisson and Maria M. Kneas
You can dowload a free PDF file of the book at: www.GodsHelpForHardTimes.com
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